It's the 40th pennant for the Yankees, so you'd figure their odds of winning a World Series would be pretty good. But that's just sports. Winning fan loyalty, on the other hand, is a little different. Oh, don't misunderstand us. Winning matters, but only to the degree that it reinforces one of the critical four sports fan loyalty drivers. In this case that's the "Pure Entertainment" driver.
Sure, winning is important. And it's never just a game when you're winning, but a team's win-loss ratio is only one component of the "Pure Entertainment" driver, that win-loss ratio making a 25% contribution to real loyalty when it comes to entertaining the crowd. How a team plays (whether they win or lose) is an important component, too. "Pure Entertainment" gets a lot of media attention but is only one of four loyalty drivers that define how -- and to what extent -- a sports fan becomes a loyal sports fan. And there's a difference.
Fans watch the games. Or don't watch the games. Loyal fans always watch the games -- or least to the extent of six times more than just someone who "follows baseball." Real fans are also six times more likely to buy licensed team merchandise, which is still a big business, even in this economy.
The other drivers are "Authenticity" (Do they play like a team, or as Hal Steinbrenner said of the Yankees, "... they really care about each other. They are a family ... they support each other." And what the managers like counts, too), "Fan Bonding" (are there players like Derek Jeter with whom a real emotional bond is established?), and finally "History and Tradition," the ultimate loyalty driver.
If you watch baseball (or any other major league sport) sitting with three generations of Yankee or Phillies fans, watching the game wearing team shirts and hats, you'll have an understanding of precisely how that driver resonates.
So, how do the Yankees and Phillies stack up in terms of fan loyalty? For that answer we looked to our 2009 Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index, a scorecard of all the teams in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. Well, on an overall basis, the Phillies were #2. That has a lot to do with what the season was like last year. The Yankees were #3. Rankings for the top and bottom five in all the leagues can be found at http://www.brandkeys.com/awards/sports.cfm.
Assessments are indexed against a benchmark of 100, so higher is better, just like sports scores. These assessments correlate very highly with TV viewership, merchandise purchase, and heart rates!
|History & Tradition||130||119|
So will "History and Tradition" win out over "Pure Entertainment?" Will "Authenticity" score big against "Fan Bonding?" The games will give some indication of the sports record's outcome, but that's mostly all down to the managers and players.
But in sports marketing and TV and licensing deals it all comes down to loyalty and when it comes to loyalty, it all comes down to the fans, and you've got to manage those fans carefully. Because you know what the great Yogi Berra said about fans? "If the fans don't come out to the ball park, you can't stop them!"