Study: Fanboys Are Girls, Too

Popular perception of pimply, awkward young men is too limited, according to study.

Last Updated: October 14, 2009 @ 12:47 PM

Fanboys can even be girls.

The popular perception of the entertainment industry’s most voracious consumers as pimply, socially awkward young men is too limited, according to a study called "Fanboy FAQ!" released Tuesday by the Online Testing Exchange (OTX) and SoundThinkingNY.
For one thing, the study of 5,230 self-professed movie, music and videogame fans ages 13 to 54 were as likely to be female as male. 
Results of the study were presented to studio officials, Internet companies and press Tuesday at the company’s Culver City headquarters.
The study also found that fanboys’ appetites are not strictly limited to superheroes and vampires but covered a deep interest in culture and consumption.
"I think we have a secret fear that they’re misfits, but nothing about our data shows that," said Gwen Lipsky, CEO of SoundThinkingNY.
Rather than the popular stereotype, the study found that ‘fanboys’ described themselves as social and outgoing, and were almost as frequently married with children as single.
Separating the fanboys from more orthodox fans by measuring their collecting behavior, entertainment interests and familiarity with creators of books, comics, movies and shows, roughly 10 percent of respondents were considered by the company as worthy of the fanboy moniker. Of these, only 42 percent actually identified themselves as such.
The study discovered that fanboys are not only interested in obscure graphic novels. They have an equal affinity for TV shows and movies with a broad appeal.
They also evince a strong interest in physical — not just digital — content and platforms. They are likely to be interested in buying DVDs, CDs and memorabilia — and they still get a lot of their news through print publications and newspapers.
"They like the same content, but they have a different relationship with that content," Lipsky said. "For fanboys, content is the key to communication."
Vincent Bruzzese, executive vice president and managing director of the worldwide motion picture group at OTX, said the fanboys’ true value comes in generating excitement for movies, music and videogames through their tweets, blogs and personal interactions.
Bruzesse cited "Paranormal Activity," the low-budget thriller that brought in over $7 million last weekend in less than 200 theaters, as proof of the strength of fanboy word of mouth.
Knowing how to reach and engage this audience is increasingly important for studios that are looking for more cost-effective marketing in the wake of the downturn, Bruzzese said.
"You can no longer afford to throw stuff against a wall and see where it sticks," said Bruzzese. "You have to throw darts, and those darts have to have a much bigger effect."
Some notable numbers from the study:
– 32 percent of fanboys are teens (13-17)
– 32 percent are ages 18-24
– 17 percent are ages 25-34
– 12 percent are ages 35-44
– 7 percent are ages 45-54
– 36 percent of those 18+ are married
– 45 percent of those 18+ are parents