While fan engagement in North America by teams is the norm, even the elite clubs of South America are just arming to the idea. Two Columbia grad students, Gabriel Arias and Pedro Oliveira, have worked on a project to show Flamengo the huge opportunity of growth with their core and casual fans…
Research project, developed and conducted by Sports Management graduate students from Columbia University, shows membership program’s high approval rates among fans and confirms that fan experiences and tangible benefits drive enrollment and retention rates, diminishing the perception that team performance is the main driver for growth.
Reprinted with permission in English from GloboEsporte.com Rio de Janeiro
With focus on what it considers its most valuable asset, Flamengo is aiming at expanding its membership program in 2017. After an unusual year, in which the club only hosted four games at Maracanã – the iconic stadium where the club historically hosts its home games – the club partnered with two Sports Management graduate students from Columbia University (ranked #2 globally), to run an independent market research study with their fan base. Conducted by Gabriel Arias and Pedro Oliveira, the survey indicated that the “Nação Rubro Negra” program has a 97% overall approval rate among fans.
The study sample included fans from across Brazil, mostly 18 to 35 years old men. Women and other age groups were surveyed as well. The membership program is currently one of the club’s main revenue sources, equivalent to a top sponsor. The goal of the survey was to learn different fan profiles, their expectations for the program and how to develop targeted conversation and retention strategies.
The results strengthened hypotheses such as the nationwide reach of the club, since 69% of those who are likely to become members do not reside in the club’s home state (Rio de Janeiro). Additionally, 92% of the fans not currently enrolled are likely to consider joining the program in the future. Ticketing benefits are the main driver for enrollment.
The data was collected in August and September of 2016, with more than six thousand respondents across the country.
Flamengo’s Marketing Vice President, Daniel Orlean, emphasized how important this initiative was towards enhancing the membership program. The executive intends to work with the Columbia students on revamping the program in 2017, based on the results of the survey.
- “The survey was the first step in developing the program even further. Regardless of the high approval rates, we know our fans always expect more and now we can give them that. The partnership with Gabriel and Pedro brought high gains to the project and key industry expertise to our marketing department. In 2017, we will invest heavily in enhancing the program. Now that we are back in our home stadium, we will be able to provide certain benefits as well as develop other benefits targeted at fans across the country; we want to create more attractive offerings and be the leading membership program.”
(Note: in 2016, Flamengo hosted its home games away from Rio de Janeiro due to restrictions imposed by the 2016 Rio Olympic Games committee)
Last October, when Flamengo returned to Maracanã stadium, the program reached 75,000 active members, a record number since it started in 2013. Flamengo plans to reach the 100,000 active member mark in 2017.