During Super Bowl XLVI and other events in the sports industry, analysis of fan engagement at venues is collectible data that helps to drive corporate profitability. One of the pioneering leaders in this niche is Sports Management Research Institution (SMRI) led by President and CEO, Dr. Kathleen Davis.
SMRI is a full service market research company specializing in research technology. They have a sister company, GIG Consulting, who contributes baseline data intelligence as brand evaluation tools. Founded in 1995, SMRI shifted their core competencies to focus more on technology, and, in particular, the 70 million Gen Y fans.
SMRI provides customized Platforms that use the right measurement tools and formulas to gauge success. Kathleen said, “SMRI has a database of venues and values.” What this allows SMRI to offer to clients is “the unique ability,” she said to, “rate venues to standards.”
In 2011, the NFL and GIG created a guest services Platform. Kathleen said, “The NFL was proactive,” in terms of learning more about Gen Y and Gen Z. The object of stadium operators is to, “enhance the fan expierence,” shared Dr. Davis.
Major League Baseball, the NFL, NASCAR, the U.S. Open, New York Giants and Jets, Gillette Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons, the Cleveland Browns, Orange Bowl/BCS National Championship, WWE, Homestead Motorsports Complex, Continental Airlines Arena, Meadowlands Racetrack, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Jobing.com Arena, the Red Bull Air Races World Tour, the Chicago Bears, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the University of Southern California and other recreation outlets, have signed on as clients of SMRI.
The SMRI technology combined with years of sports business experience really is a difference maker. Can technology measure the “heartbeat of a fan,” as Kathleen calls it? Not entirely. Her staff does a large amount of both off-line and on-line research.
Their hands-on research at events and venues themselves further separates SMRI because being in person allows them to get a birds-eye view and learn more about sponsor valuations, fan behaviors, and to recognize value driven opportunities. “What we want to find,” said Kathleen, “is the hot button of fans.”
Technology that SMRI developed is a big part of their Solutions overall package. SMRI is excellent at providing services that can better gauge whether fans are spending their discretionary income at events, and if so, how they are doing it. The income range data SMRI collects helps indicate whether fans and families can afford the event and venue experience, if pricing is in acceptable ranges, and whether fans like what they interact with.
GIG is working in Rio and San Paulo, Brazil, to help the World Cup soccer venues prepare for the world’s most popular event that is being played in 2014. I asked Kathleen about localization of the Brazilian language and how they are dealing with it? She said that, “They are using a man on the ground, someone who can facilitate outreach, lay the ground work, and active programs.”
The final area I wished to dive deeper into was the SMRI relationship with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and how she perceived Seattle’s chances of obtaining another NBA team in the near future.
Kathleen said they are “Currently working with the Thunder on fan research.” Kathleen explained that, “a City needs a clearly outlined campaign and there needs to be good faith and belief in the community about the basketball product.” Kathleen noted that it was interesting that the Seattle Storm of the WNBA stayed in town when the NBA moved the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City because of market driven considerations.
Contact Kathleen at GIG for your fan engagement needs at: http://www.globalinterfacegroup.com/index.html.
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