The Fluid Fan Will Be A Changing Tide For The Unprepared Sports Industry
PRESS RELEASE — BOSTON, MASS. May 1, 2019_ The future of the sports industry is uncertain as it faces a fan defined by technology, open to options, and no longer bound by the loyalties of the past, according to the Sports Innovation Lab, the leading market intelligence platform and research provider for the sports industry. In the research, A New Age in Sports, Sports Innovation Lab analyzes the changing dynamics in sports and the impact on the “fluid fan”, which it defines as open to change, empowered to choose, and continuously evolving.
“This research is a wake-up call for the leaders in the sports industry,” Angela Ruggiero, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-Founder, Sports Innovation Lab, said. “When sports thrive, they unify, break down barriers, and heal us. I was in the Korean locker room in PyeongChang, South Korea when the North and South Korean women’s hockey teams united for the 2018 Winter Olympics. These women knew what they were doing was bigger than sport. And that’s the power of sport—when it’s done right.”
“The challenge facing us, however, is that our fans are undergoing a metamorphosis, driven by technology,” added the four-time Olympian and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “This research is critical for the understanding of tomorrow’s fan and how the industry can adapt now to serve them."
There are several characteristics of the fluid fan already emerging:
- The Fluid Fan will follow digital communities. Teams will no longer own the dialogue with fans, as communities like the NBA-themed subreddit, which has 1.8 million subscribers, has already demonstrated. It’s just one more channel teams will need to follow and influence to reach their fans.
- The Fluid Fan will be loyal to players, not teams. When Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, his Lakers jersey quickly become the NBA’s biggest seller. Wayne Rooney, the talented D.C. United forward, has 17 million Twitter followers - the team itself has 150,000 followers. Increasingly, the athlete has the loyal fans, not the franchise.
- The Fluid Fan will cheer for her values. Nearly three-quarters of consumers under the age of 20 say they are willing to pay more to brands that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
- The Fluid Fan will have multiple selves. The next generation of fans will have grown up in digital communities, whether it be Twitter, Twitch, or Fortnite. Their identities will be less fixed, and more dynamic and contextual.
- The Fluid Fan will be a creator, not just a consumer. As new platforms emerge to support user-generated content, professional sports will become a platform for the generation of a broader, more dispersed ecosystem, as has already been witnessed in video games and with the popularity of esports.
The report, which also provides recommendations for the industry on how it can adapt to the fluid can, can be downloaded here.
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