"Forget cars, computers and cola. The most competitive arena in marketing is sports. Rein, Kotler and Shields do a brilliant job in analyzing the issues involved in attracting elusive fans who have many more choices today than they have ever had."
"The Elusive Fan is the most thorough and comprehensive overview of the sports marketing industry I have seen. The insights and recommendations are a must read for anyone involved or interested in the field."
"The authors apply insightful consumer analysis and branding concepts to the practical problems of bringing people to games, attracting eyeballs to sports TV, and opening consumer wallets for merchandise."
"The Elusive Fan is a must read for anyone interested in sports marketing strategies -- and the 21st Century world of sports in general."
"Authors Rein, Kotler and Shields have hit a homerun. The Elusive Fan offers a detailed playbook for sports decision makers looking to up their game."
"The Elusive Fan is an essential primer for the past, present, and, most importantly, future of sports."
How to accommodate a "competitive and fragmented marketplace"
by Robert Morris (
Competition for disposal income spent on recreation and entertainment is probably more intense now than it has ever been before. On any given day, we have so many choices and all of them have direct or indirect costs. This is especially true of sporting events, many of which are televised. The title of this book refers to someone whose financial support is increasingly more difficult to attract and then sustain. According to Rein, Kotler, and Shields, "All sports need to be constantly adapting and if necessary changing to accommodate a competitive and fragmented marketplace." Their book suggests how to achieve that objective by adopting and implementing a "strategic approach that emphasizes fan connection, innovative segmentation, brand-building, and sustaining market share."
In essence, marketing either creates or increases demand for whatever is offered. With regard to the sports industry (at all levels from local youth and school teams to professional leagues and international competition such as the Olympics), the authors assert that those responsible for marketing must reinvent their thinking in terms of athletes, teams, leagues , and events in order to differentiate them from competition which, yes, includes the option to commit no hours and dollars whatsoever. Instead of buying a ticket to a baseball game, for example, and probably purchase food, beverages, and merchandise while attending it, why not stay home and watch the same game on television? Or instead watch another television program or DVD? Or read a book such as The Elusive Fan? Or go for a walk in the woods?
In this volume, Rein, Kotler, and Shields address questions such as these:
1. How to connect with "the elusive fan"?
2. How to reinvent a sports brand?
3. How to generate the transformation of that brand?
4. How to implement the brand's transformation?
5. How to communicate the brand effectively?
6. How to sustain the fan connection with the brand?
7. Which sports branding initiatives have been most successful?
8. What lessons can be learned from them?
9. What is the future of "fan connection"?
10. How to respond effectively to "the most elusive fans who are just now being born"?
This brilliant book will be of substantial value to decision-makers in the sports industry who must decide how to market what they offer to an increasingly more crowded marketplace but I presume to suggest that it will also be of great interest and value to others who also struggle to understand -- and then respond effectively to -- the increasingly more "elusive" consumers within those decision-makers' marketplace.
I especially appreciate the fact that Rein, Kotler, and Shields devote relatively little attention to theories, hypotheses, etc. and spend most of their time rigorously examining real-worth examples of those organizations which have achieved marketing success by initiating and then sustaining the aforementioned "strategic approach that emphasizes fan connection, innovative segmentation, brand-building, and sustaining market share." They are a commendably diverse selection of effectively marketed sports brands (both individuals and organizations) and include the Kentucky Derby, Maria Sharapova, owner Mark Cuban the Dallas Mavericks, the University of Vermont men's basketball team, general manager Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics , South Lake Carroll (Texas) High School's football program, the Professional Bowlers Association, NASCAR's Daytona 500 (the "Great American Race"), and the Northwestern University women's lacrosse team. However different they are in almost every respect, all are successful sports brands because each "has transformed into a strong, identifiable, and differentiated brand and is an example of how to execute two critical brand differentiation tools - [begin italics] benchmarking and innovation. [end italics]"
In the final chapter, Rein, Kotler, and Shields identify and then discuss six successful "drivers" of successful sports brands (please see pages 295-306) and as I absorbed and digested this material, it struck me that the same "drivers" (after appropriate modification) could achieve the same marketing objectives for almost any other category of brand, especially as most products and services have by now become commodities in their respective marketplaces which are also "crowded" in ways and to an extent which are unprecedented.
Trace the etymology of the word
"fan" and you will
learn that it is an abbreviation of the word "fanatic" and probably
first appeared in
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Michael Mandelbaum's The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See When They Do; also D. Stanley Eitzen`s Sport in Contemporary Society: An Anthology.
The Elusive Fan
Mark Lawson, The Age (Australia)
As a one-eyed supporter of the AFL's Collingwood ever since I can remember, I cannot imagine following any other team, or becoming seriously interested in any other winter sport. Not even a few years of playing Rugby Union as a schoolboy shook this Melbourne-bred belief in Collingwood and the AFL, in that order.
Strangely enough, there are people who develop an interest in other sports. And thanks to the rise and rise of digital entertainment, including the internet, there are plenty to chose from.
Where once there were the traditional sports of boxing, football, soccer (which some people call football), cricket, basketball and so on, there are now also the likes of professional surfing, bowls, volleyball and badminton. Any organised sport you can name, there is someone trying to market it.
The big competition is between the long-established sports, with boxing, baseball and American Football competing with each other for fans, as well as trying to hold market share against a host of newcomers, such as Arena Football League (a recently invented, fast moving game).
This book is all about that competition. It looks in some detail at exactly what motivates a fan, and how individual sports can attract and retain those individuals. How and when does an individual become a fan of a particular sport? What moves a fan from watching a team on television to turning up at the ground with a painted face? If they are committed enough, they will buy a package of season tickets and a CD, or will perhaps pay to be married on their team's home ground.
The academics and consultants who wrote this book concentrate mainly on American sports, with the occasional reference to cricket or rugby, and part of what they say does not translate to Australia. Here, the main story has been the spread of different football codes between the states. Nonetheless, The Elusive Fan will be a starting point for any of the growing number of managers trying to get their team, or sport, ahead.
So, would I pay to have my ashes scattered over Collingwood's home ground? If it will help them win a premiership, it's worth thinking about.
Bonham and Hinchey: Book Offers Insight on Attracting Fans
by Dean Bonham and Don Hinchey, Rocky Mountain News, December 2, 2006
Much of the business of sports centers around one key
How to identify, approach, sell and satisfy existing and prospective
fans. It's the Holy Grail of sports. If teams, leagues and TV networks
do it well, they prosper; if they don't, they struggle. That's why
there's always a lot of heartburn among the executives who run these
entities and especially among those who staff their front offices.