Monday, 25. December 2017

Milan or Madrid – In search of the second-favorite club

In the future professional clubs will make more sales abroad than at home. Untapped growth areas for clubs will mostly be found abroad.

The international fan community will sit at home in the best seats in the real or “virtual” stadium. 360-degree cameras will project an authentic stadium atmosphere on the living room walls and tables. Clubs will seek to curry favor with the “fans without borders” who will follow their second- or third-favorite club (abroad) and are willing to spend money for their cross-border favorites. Increased mobility and the world of digital news will give them a feeling of greater proximity to their stars abroad. In times past you had to buy a newspaper to find out how Real Madrid played in their last game. Today, you can click on live reporting or follow a live ticker. Fans without borders follow their favorite players or coaches (star followers), seek out unusual sports spectacles (highlight fans), or have a personal connection to their favorite club abroad (regional affinity fans). This development will continue to accelerate rapidly.

Local dependencies for business development, flagship businesses or fan shops have become a must in key metropolitan areas in order to stay in step internationally. However, to make the club brand a continuous and consistent experience across national and linguistic borders, and across all online and offline channels and product categories, conscious and consistent brand management and communication for professional clubs has become essential.

Sales will differentiate further in the core business of professional soccer: Regional acquisition teams will be seeking out new sponsors and corporate clients worldwide, specialized customer service representatives (e.g. former private bankers in pinstripes) will attend to the personal needs of VVIP customers. All-inclusive travel and stadium packages will be sold to retail customers through call centers and direct marketing, and individual arrangements made in personal consultations with customer consultants (e.g. former real estate agents in department store suits).

The clubsʼ sales teams will be able to use stadium bands multiple times nationally and internationally through digitally superimposed advertising, and films applied to the skin of players will serve as a projection surface for additional advertising. Choreographies will be selected based on online surveys of the fan crowd and then implemented by external service providers in the stadium over the smartphones or tablets of the stadium visitors.

In the area of ticketing, in the future, exact control of demand based on precise behavior forecasts will be used instead of last-minute sales. Dynamic pricing will allow clubs to adjust ticket prices based on opponents, season, day of the week, current game performance, weather data, competing events, etc., and to treat early birds differently from late bookers or offer best-price guarantees to season ticket holders or certain fan groups. The transactions will be carried out via primary and secondary market platforms online by smartphone. Likewise, fans can book spontaneously at the stadium or even upgrade their ticket category or access hospitality areas at special rates.

Merchandising will be about process efficiency of an integrated digital supply chain between physical and virtual points of sale. Fan collections will be designed with the help of fans in the cloud and then personalized before delivery. 3D printers will enable local production of most merchandise as well as fast delivery to global clientele.

By Prof. Sascha L. Schmidt