Fans are the bread and butter of sport teams, but are organizations doing what they can to keep them happy and loyal? This is the question we sought out to answer in a recent study.
Fan Councils have helped a number of leagues connect with their fans, but in a digital world where loyalty means so much more, we are now seeing teams build Fan Councils to interact with their fan base as well. Specifically, teams are now able to use insights directly from fans to drive season ticket sales, sponsorships, marketing investments and brand engagement –key factors in retaining fan loyalty despite performance.
From April 8 to April 9, 2013, we reached out to 1,000 randomly selected American adults about their favorite sports teams in the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA to understand the dynamics of those relationships. What we found is that fans do not feel their opinions are being heard. In fact, only 45% of fans we spoke with agreed that the teams they root for are actually interested in hearing their opinions. Even worse, only 33% of fans agreed that that their favorite team actually listens to their feedback. These findings show a major gap in how fans are currently being engaged with, leading to even more surprising statistics:
If sport fans are already passionate about their teams, though, why should organizations bother listening?
Our study points to seven key reasons:
1. Fans are cheering for more than a team’s performance
2. Fans want to be engaged throughout the year
3. Fans are willing to switch favorite teams, and there are still “floaters” to attract
4. Teams can optimize marketing investments
5. There is an opportunity to provide added value and deepen relationships with sponsors and advertisers
6. Listening to fans enables teams to measure and increase brand value
7. Fan engagement drives the season ticket sales funnel
With all of this in mind, it is obvious that interacting with a fan base through effective listening tools such as Fan Councils is imperative. As digital channels open sports fans to new markets, now is the time to grow and maintain fans.
Surprising stat on the high proportion of fans switching (or likely next year to switch) teams. It would be interesting to see how college football and basketball compare to that. One would assume stronger loyalty...but would like to see the numbers. Cheers.