POV/Research: Two Quick Things for Sports Marketers to Ruminate on in The New Year

It’s January, and I actually succeeded in finding a little airplane time over the holidays to escape and think those deep thoughts that one is supposed to stew over when not plugged into the office 24-7. Sure, I was still contemplating the relationship between consumer insights and successful sports and leisure marketing, but these brief interludes do sometimes allow me to further connect the dots across our disparate projects and varied conversations with other folks that think about similar things on a regular basis. While far from epiphanies, click below for two quick themes that we’ll continue to think about in the year ahead:

“U” and I” are the Most important letters in “Fan Resonance”
In sports marketing we often worry about resonating with the next generation of fans. Some suggest that there is an erosion of interest in sports, brought about by decreased attention spans, and the instant gratification promised by other, less time intensive pursuits. And while I might question the universal validity of these assertions, our research across sports as well as personal experiences continue to demonstrate that the real secret sauce of engaging a passion for a sport or property is through human, personal connections that are inherently timeless. That doesn’t mean that we should eschew the integration of digital assets or other creature comforts into the live sports experience. To the contrary, such steps rightfully remain a priority for properties looking to add value to the live sports experience while competing with the alternative of staying on the couch. But, across both our qualitative and quantitative work, it’s remarkable to see the demonstrated impact of a personalized, face-to-face approach in building both overall satisfaction and loyalty. I’d hypothesize that for spectator sports, it’s even more critical than the on-field product.

Don’t overplay the Millennial Obsession
We’re barely through the first days of the new year, and I’m already tired of marketers’ continued fascination with all things “Millennial.” For those properties and brands that may be more skewed towards those with “greater life experience, all is not lost, and you don’t need to attempt to maneuver a battleship around a hairpin turn to be relevant to the young and the beautiful crowd. In fact, if you try to do it, you risk losing credibility, perceptions of authenticity and the embarrassment of being like the 40 something doing Jello shots or crowd surfing at a concert. Some of our recent deeper dives into the under age 35 set reveal that there are great attitudinal similarities between this cohort and the nation’s other large generational segment, the boomers, at a similar life stage. Specifically, Boomer “Me Generation” sentiments of self expression, disdain for working for “the man” and the importance of community, manifest themselves in Millennials as the “Look at Me” generation–replete with individualistic self expression through social media communities, citizen journalism, and frustrations with under employment. The big difference—the huge gaps in consumer spending power between these two generations.