Emory University recently published results of their “NFL Fan Equity” study. In the study, they evaluate and rank the 32 teams’ fan bases. You may wonder how your team ranks, but prior to getting too involved and passionate about the results (the study has been hammered by fans since its publication), let’s first define what the study addresses.
It ranks teams by their fan’s “equity”…okay…what does that mean? It means loyalty…but teams that are ranked in the middle of the pack continually sell-out. It means revenue in relation to wins…so that means that teams that win a lot can’t have the highest rank.
The problem here is definition – in any research, you’re going to get push back if the reader doesn’t like the results, particularly if you can’t clearly define the basis for the conclusions. If we were to do a study based on loyalty, we could look at season ticket holder renewal rates, or we could look at waiting list for season tickets, or we could simply ask fans (which this study doesn’t do) about their relative fan affinity.
So what in the world is “equity” – usually that either deals with equality/fairness or financial equity such as the amount of stock an individual owns. I assume they’re speaking of the latter, but it’s not clear when they toss in words like “loyalty” and “fan support.”
When you embark on any research project, keep two things in mind. First, know your goal. What are you trying to learn? What are you trying to accomplish with the results? How are you going to clearly communicate findings, conclusions, and recommendations?
Second, ask the customer. Don’t make evaluations of the customer (especially about their affinity, loyalty, renewal likelihood, growth opportunities, etc.) without asking them.
When you look to research your fan base, begin with the end in mind…and ask the customer directly.
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