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  • Writer's pictureOli Shawyer

Understanding the "sports consumer"

As promised in my last post, I want to share some insight into a few key points of discussion that I think is far reaching in terms of its learning and application, specifically:

  • Understanding the "sports consumer"

  • Identifying the stages of fan development

Understanding the "sports consumer"

The sports consumer is often portrayed as being different to other consumers – more passionate, more committed and more loyal – especially when compared to consumers of typical fast-moving consumer goods. But, decades of work highlights that consumers, including sports consumers, are rarely 100% loyal to one brand and just as non-sport consumers range from light to heavy buyers, sport consumers represent many diverse types, from casual viewers to die-hard fans.

Identifying the stages of fan development

In working with renowned Sports Marketing academic, Professor Heath McDonald, it's been identified that fandom is based on three key elements.

At an entry level, it begins with fun, and over time, people begin to centralise the activity – prioritising its consumption in their lives (attend more games, watch more games, engage in other ways such as social media, tipping, and other club related activities). Finally, people identify with activities they enjoy, seeing it as part of who they are and publicly promoting their involvement in it.

Understanding the sports consumer better, and their then evolvement path of fandom, is vital for the defining what you will and wont do via your marketing efforts. Both in the short and long term. In being able to understand where a particular fan sits along the fan development spectrum, it has a huge impact on revisiting and defining:

Your product mix - what they'd be interested in and won't be;

Your price - what they'd be prepared to pay for;

Your competition - what your audience is comparing you to;

Your communications - what you do and don't talk to them about;

Your positioning - what motivates them and what doesn't';

Your channels - what will reach them and what won't;

The list goes on. Whilst I could talk for hours about the fan development spectrum, the biggest learning here is to understand and respect that whilst it will be every Club's goal to push all audiences as far right as possible, many just won't. And in that instance, the job is to do everything to at least maintain their level of fandom. As it is the case with FMCG, light buyers, which in this instance are those who sit within the Fun section of fan development and consume sport casually, are hugely vital to both the bottom line and future profitability of all businesses.

Having unpacked this insight, I'm now in the process of segmenting the entire market to map out both where Port Adelaide fans sit within these segments, and then importantly, map those segments out against the fan development spectrum. This alone will give us a strategic map for who we go to with what, and most importantly, when by way of prioritisation.


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