How is sport navigating the 'new normal' during the lockdown? | Jonas Sports

How is sport navigating the ‘new normal’?

Sam Nixon - June 1, 2020

What will be the ‘new normal’?

Over recent weeks the narrative in the media has started to shift from the “stay home, stay safe” mantra which has been the governments overriding principle, to a growing debate on how the economy might safely return to some form of normality.

We have heard about the phased ‘conditional’ return from Boris Johnson which gives us a glimmer of hope, but of course this will not be the flick of a switch, but a gradual process with more regions, sectors and businesses being released as time progresses.

Sport is beginning to restart across the country, with snooker and horse racing first to begin, and football pencilled in for mid June.

It is not just the professional game, team sport at all levels stopped overnight (unless you live with a team of sports men or women). The teams who play Sunday League football, Netball teams, Hockey…. The list goes on. And yet Athletics and specifically running has seen a surge. Sport, whether watching or participating has a community feel, is entertaining and of course good for health, both physically and mentally.

What are sports clubs doing during this time?

Professional sport is now returning, however, this will be behind closed doors for a while yet. Until the time comes that crowds are allowed back, let’s take a look at what the industry is doing to protect revenues and engage fans.

The Jonas Sports Marketing team who provide expert data managed services to our sports clients have given an update on what they have seen.

“We have all found it difficult keeping our days busy, minds healthy and work life productive as government restrictions have limited our daily business. On-field, sports have ground to a halt with esports leading the way in providing a dosage of sport to a yearning fanbase as we all anticipate a swift return to normality.”

Despite this, being on pause gives the opportunity to stop, think and reflect on how existing processes can be improved and identify where creativity can flourish. Our sports customers have taken this approach to ensure their database does not remain idle and future fans can have a high-quality journey. We have also seen an influx of simple retail offers, like discounted training wear which can help drive some revenue into the club.”

Merchandise is the key revenue stream for many clubs

Jonas Sports Retail (powered by R&SS) have also seen a surge in offers and incentives for fans and also retail managers considering longer terms projects for when we are out of this.

“Our customers continue to innovate and drive retail sales as much as possible. Simple but effective offers are proving to drive traffic and merchandise sales. We are also seeing clubs, who’s online stores had closed, reopen to drive sales of ‘this seasons’ stock, again through offers and incentives. Those clubs with warehouses have implemented social distancing and are able to still fulfil online orders.

We have seen many clubs in different leagues see a huge surge in sales in April when compared to March. Some are seeing as high as a 250% increase. It shows that merchandise continues to be a key driver of revenue for clubs, whilst all other income streams have almost dried up completely.

Our vast network of retail managers are also busy at home thinking and innovating for when the ‘new normal’ comes as retailers grasp the fact that online sales are set to continue to increase, now even more so.”

The importance of keeping fans engaged

The key though is to continue to engage, engage, engage… this has evolved and we are seeing a surge in Esports and social to engage with the masses (has anyone heard of TikTok?) but the traditional direct digital channels are ever important in keeping fans engaged whilst capturing even more data on your fans for future use.

Why not spend the time to ask your supporter base to tell them more about themselves? Drive consents in lagging but important channels (SMS springs to mind). Send out quizzes, ask for feedback, enrol them in a scheme to redesign the family stand!

Whilst Esports is emerging, make sure you can capture, process, and leverage the data! This is a way of capturing new (and often younger) fans and your aim should be to convert them to a live match day experience.

If some sport is played behind closed doors driving value from your data, whether that be fan engagement or revenue, is no different. Fans may still need to buy a ticket and consume in some way online and this drive to online makes your CRM and data strategy even more important.

One day we will return, don’t regret neglecting your database and maximising the time to prepare for when we come out the other side. Do not be the one who regrets not acting on the ‘opportunity’ you could potentially find.

To find out more about how Jonas Sports can help you navigate the new norm, get in touch.

By Sam Nixon