Using Mobile Ethnography to help Sports Clubs better understand their fans’ Match Day Experience:
Most brands would give their proverbial right arms to be able to achieve even a fraction of the emotional connectivity and loyalty that sports fans possess for their favorite team. Having supported hundreds of projects across multiple sectors and industries, Sports Fan Customer Experience research projects using Mobile Ethnography or Mobile Diary Studies have consistently delivered the highest levels of engagement and respondent participation. It’s awesome to see how passionate consumers can become about a particular brand. There are lots of lessons that other brands can learn from sports clubs when it comes to building a deeper connection with their consumers.
Get closer to the real fan experience using mobile:
However, for sports brands to truly deliver a customer experience that lives up to the highs of great sporting occasions, it is essential that sports brands are able to understand every moment and milestone of their fans customer journey in both the days before and after each game.
Intercepting fans on their way into or inside the stadium only allows sports clubs to understand a snippet of the entire customer experience. In person ethnographies are too time consuming, and frankly, too interruptive to yield meaningful insights at a scale sufficient for clubs to action any insights and be able to invest with confidence into the research findings.
What is needed is a cost effective methodology to enable sports clubs to ‘walk in the shoes of their fans’ at scale and get a deeper understanding of the fan moments that matter in the days leading up to, during and after both home and away games.
Sports Fan Customer Experience research methodology:
Mobile Ethnography can deliver impactful value for the Insights and Marketing Teams at Sports brands who are looking for a richer, more contextual, in-the-moment understanding of their customers’ experience.
Far from being a narrow time window from kick off to the final whistle, the real customer journey for fans of sports clubs can take place over multiple days, weeks, or in the case on international fans travelling abroad, the real journey begins months ahead of match day.
For clubs to deliver a considered and seamless fan experience, a deeper understanding of the fan journey well before and after kick off is required.
Using Mobile Ethnography and scheduled tasking designed specifically to capture key moments in the lead up to, during and after each game, a sports club can capture media rich insights into the rituals, routines and experiences of their fans way beyond the walls of the stadium.
Understanding the pre-game experience
When it comes to capturing the entire customer journey, key moments and milestones in the days before match day that can be captured via mobile using photo, video or text include:
How did they book their tickets? What was the experience like?
What is the fans level of anticipation in the days running up to the big game. How are they feeling about their club’s chances?
How do fans plan and organise their journey to the stadium and what apps and websites do they use to prepare for same?
What role does social media play in the run up to the game and what content are they consuming and engaging with.
Before fieldwork begins, have your prompts or discussion guide ready to be sent to Respondents depending on what they post. Doing this enables researchers and brands to ask even more targeted questions in relation to each moment.
Witnessing match day moments
When match day finally arrives, the time axis of your research compresses and clubs need to be able to capture moment almost hourly to be able to map out the fan journey on the day.
Specific experiences to be captured include:
First thing in the morning: feelings and emotions.
What news / content are fans engaging with on the day.
The fan’s actual journey to the stadium and what their experience is on this journey.
Understanding how long this journey takes and the fan’s individual experience.
Signage, wayfinding and access the venue. How long does it take them to find their way inside.
When fans are inside the venue:
What are the highs and lows (food, beverages, facilities, wifi…)?
Capturing the highs and lows of the game?
Capture the game from the fans point-of-view using video.
How are they feeling – highs and lows during the game?
The half time experience – facilities, entertainment etc?
Reflecting on the post match day customer experience.
The experience never ends with the final whistle. Sports clubs should invest deeply in understanding the fan journey from the stands to their home. Experiences such as venue egress, transport from the venue, post-match social media are all part of the journey.
Irrespective of how things go on the pitch, mobile ethnography can enable clubs to vividly capture:
How fans they feel in the minutes, hours and days after the game?
What impact does the result on field have on how they view the experience overall?
What other aspects of the experience impact on how they perceive the sports brand?
And once fans get back into their daily routines, video tasking enables Sports Clubs to capture their fans’ post-match reflections and understand what key moments fans recall of their match day experience.
The final result
Using well designed tasking that is aligned with the fans routines and rituals in the lead up to, during and after match day can give you a periscope into your fan’s real experience and can shine a light on opportunities to improve their customer experience in a cost effective, media rich and non invasive manner.
Furthermore, content captured using mobile ethnography can be a powerful source of user generated content that sports clubs – with the necessary consent – can use to further engage their community. In a lot of projects we have completed, fans are only too glad to take part in these customer journey research projects for free. The mere fact that they can connect with the club on a new and deeper level has the wonderful win-win outcome where the brand gets deeper insights and fans get a chance to more closely connect with the brand that they are so passionate about.