Many industry experts hold their specialties in the limelight, decrying normal sales rules because their industry is “special” or “nuanced”. One such industry is the Sports-Entertainment Industry. With a unique product and a unique fanbase of everything from die-hards to bandwagoners, does the Sports Industry need special focus in order to “sell” their product? Is their customer base, er, I mean “fan” base unique enough to warrant different techniques?
These questions aren’t just a pointless hypothetical exercise: Sports Entertainment is a massive, multi-billion-dollar industry that might get a whole lot bigger soon. With the potential floodgates opening for nationwide, online gambling in the US and the rise of MMA/Bare-Knuckle Boxing trying to reclaim its former glory at the same time, the stakes are high when it comes to marketing to sports fans.
That can help explain why Stadiums are investing countless resources into data analytics. Expected to be a $30 Billion industry of its own by 2024, the Sports Analytics industry follows everything from player performance to “Smart Stadiums”, to with real-time tracking of both players and customers.
The question remains, though: are sports consumers unique? A team of Australian researchers attempted to solve this question by examining the purchasing behaviors of 1,500 sports consumers. Their results indicated that sports fans act the same as any repeat-purchasing customer, and the authors suggested that the idea that sports require sales management is outdated and exaggerated.
So as high as the stakes may be, it is not a unique situation: sports are a product, and sports fans (as brightly colored as their painted faces may be), are operating under the same rules as any other consumer market.
Fujak, Hunter & Frawley, Stephen & McDonald, Heath & Bush, Stephen. (2018). Are Sport Consumers Unique? Consumer Behavior Within Crowded Sport Markets. Journal of Sport Management. 32. 1-14. 10.1123/jsm.2017-0318.