POV: A Unique Inflection Point for Sports Media/Communications Strategies

As referenced below in our recap of recent research of interest and in SLRG President Jon Last’s November Media Post column, 2013 has afforded us numerous opportunities to examine the evolving ways in which consumers engage in various sports and leisure related communications. It’s easy to make generational assumptions and buy into convenient marketing opinion that for those under age 40 it’s all about social and mobile media, while older folks remain mired in legacy platforms. Such assumptions are wrong. Rather it strikes us that we are at a unique inflection point, where our data reveals that the proliferation of media options and platforms have led to an increase in cross platform consumption of multiple channels, particularly in special interest categories like sports and travel.

Not only have various recent studies shown an increase in special interest media consumption year over year, but they’ve revealed a myriad of need states, independent of age or lifestage, that drive consumers to a variety of media platforms and sources. Those who recall our earlier introduction of “The Sandwich Generation,” concept know that we’ve defined this group as those Americans born roughly between 1960 and 1970. Sandwichers are inconveniently positioned at either the end of the Baby Boom or beginning of Generation X, so to immediately place these 40 to 50 somethings into one set of lifestage assumptions misses what makes them unique. You can reference our earlier work for a further examination of some of the societal forces and belief structures that make this cohort different, but there are also some interesting media forces at play. Recognize that this group of consumers started high school or college composing term papers with electric typewriters, but graduated with the first PCs and Macs. They are old enough to have used first generation bulky cell phones and have migrated to become among the early adopters of today’s smartphones and tablet devices. Thus, they are as comfortable with the tactile familiarity of newspapers and magazines as they are with social media. Some still covet hard copy boarding passes and baseball tickets, while others prefer their digital counterparts. And our research affirms that it isn’t just familiarity or comfort with the delivery system that predicates behavioral choices. Particularly when it comes to media usage behavior, there is a recognition that different platforms complement each other from both the perspectives of content and accessibility. Simply stated, marketers who fail to examine the roles that both legacy and new media platforms play in building and supporting their specific brands, risk missing a large piece of the optimal media mix.