Leicester City FC has helped bring the romance back to football and captured global headlines after being crowned winners of the Premier League. The club, which was placed at 5000/1 to win at the start of the season, has reignited the passion of football fans and next season will see some of the biggest names in European football visit the King Power Stadium as the Champions League comes to Leicester. But how can Leicester capitalise on their fairy tale and turn one time supporters into long-time committed fans?
Just over a year ago, the Foxes had fewer than half a million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined. The club now boasts over five million followers, with 2.5 million following in the last three months alone. With attention on the club at an all time high, the team at Leicester City FC should be considering how it can take advantage of the growing fan base to drive long-term commercial success, regardless of what happens on the pitch in the forthcoming seasons.
With a windfall of £150 million, compared to only £5.2 million in 2012, its growing overseas fan base should unlock the potential of significant sponsorship opportunities and its host of new fans here in the UK should also drive increased ticket sales from sell-out stadium games. But is Leicester City FC in a place to maximise this opportunity? Does it have the IT infrastructure in place to capture the data about these new fans to turn them into loyal followers, beyond the hype and excitement of its champion status?
So, how can Leicester exploit fan data to encourage long-term support?
- Tailored engagement – by understanding the ‘digital fan’ and aiming for a more targeted and personal fan journey, helping them become ‘connected fans’, the club can subsequently provide a more rewarding match day experience from start to finish, inevitably encouraging fans to come back for more.
- Getting to know your fan – through knowing what your data is telling you, clubs can use information to monitor fan behaviour eg. to see if fans have purchased anything from the club shop or if they have purchased any food or drink at the stadium. This data can give clubs the opportunity to up-sell products and purchases, leading to increased revenues whilst delivering back relevant offers and promotions to the individual fan.
- Global fan-base – with the world falling in love with the David vs Goliath storyline that was this season’s Premier League, Leicester City FC now has a new global audience that it needs to give its attention to. By interacting with these fans through online channels offering exclusive footage of the players, behind-the-scene videos, blog posts, newsletters etc. the club could see fans remain engaged and hence ensure numbers remain the same. If the club organises a pre-season tour, as most high-earning clubs do, this could also see a rise in fan support as international fans flock to see the current champions. And of course, capturing what each fan is interested in and playing this back with other pertinent content, fans may well remain hooked on the club.
- Encourage long-term success – for those fans buying tickets to the first time, clubs should ensure they have an ecommerce platform that can track and profile the preferences of each fan, recognise that they are a new supporter and respond accordingly with tailored engagement strategies and news that is designed to excite.
The next season represents a critical time for the Foxes and ensuring the commercial teams drive success for the long-term will be based on data-driven fan engagement – without a doubt. Unlocking the demographics of both new and old fans, introducing targeted fan engagement strategies that excite enough to attract, retain and drive loyalty will be vital to convert this opportunity into sustained success. Naturally, this data can also be used to attract and retain a whole new host of sponsors with an eye on this fan base.
With all eyes firmly on the club, it will be interesting to see how the team perform next season and whether they can maintain their current standard. Fan-wise, Leicester City has everything to gain from its new title. The Premier League is one of the most followed in the world and with passionate supporters enjoying the underdog’s success, Leicester City could see a welcome spike in attendance, revenue and sponsorship, finishing off the story in true fairy tale style if the team converts this for the long-term.
With an eye to the future, we also wanted to say congratulations to our customer Burnley FC on its promotion to the Premier League. With the current odds at 5000/1 to win, the team at Advanced best go offer our support with a bet on their success for next season as you simply never know what could happen with the magic that is sport.
Mark Dewell, Managing Director - Specialist Solutions
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkDewellADV