POV: Technology in Sports – Does the Consumer Know What They Want?

It’s probably not a surprise to learn that a number of recent client engagements have tasked SLRG with the deployment of research to gain a better understanding of the potential demand and ways to optimally deploy digital technology in the sports world. Clients have desired a better understanding of what the customer wants in harvesting this technology for both participants and spectators. In the past, it seemed that a lot of sports marketers have leaped before they have looked in implementing digital offerings via cell phone or tablet apps or other wireless driven amenities. Our recent work has given us the ability to do a rigorous examination of likes, dislikes, price elasticities, as well as how consumers utilize and value this technology.

It has been said that new technology applications in sports often seem to be solutions looking for a problem. Our research has helped clients to first identify consumer pain points and then leverage the technology to address them rather than blindly throw the latest bells and whistles against the wall. Ideally, an initial qualitative approach allows potential customers to articulate specific needs, to review potential interfaces, and gives them a chance to whiteboard their ideal scenarios with the aid of solid projective techniques. Such an initial approach allows the customer to better articulate something that they may not realize that they really want, and to surface needs and uses that aren’t always readily apparent. It’s not all that different from the metaphor that it’s difficult to evaluate an empty apartment that lacks furniture. Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. A qualitative approach that incorporates both projective techniques and a broad range of visual stimuli, can often surface these latent needs and benefits desired from digital technology.

These can include exposure to potential interfaces and comparisons to other non-related applications, to facilitate great discussion and ideation. The qualitative learnings can then be applied to a quantitative phase that allows us to validate or refute much of what surfaced in the qualitative.

How do we gain the consumer’s trust in such a cluttered space? Recent research allowed us to gauge the importance of a free trial for a new application for the consumer, and what such a tactic portends for the ultimate value of that application. With each group we talked to, we found a common theme of factors that must be present for the consumer to buy into add on technology. Price expectations were also measured as the consumer began to think about their willingness to spend on additional technology. This qualitative research was then able to set the stage for the themes and ideas that would be presented to the consumer in the quantitative phase.

At the end of the day it’s refreshing to see sports marketers make informed decisions in a cluttered digital market place. This is critical for any digital solution to succeed in this area, and it is exciting to see this as a market researcher. Contact us today to see how we can do this for you.