Towards the birth of Sport 4.0

stage connects football-iquii.jpgWhether on social networks, stock market or stadiums, recent news has reminded us of the importance of the fan in the ecosystem of clubs, from Turin to Paris and Marseille to Manchester. And at the same time, we are probably witnessing what could be a paradigm shift …

The impacts of the new marketing and industrial trends have changed the world of sport, both in its practice or understanding of what is happening on and off the field, as in its relationship to supporters and partners. Today, we are not just thinking about sport or product, but we are thinking in terms of the experience and added value that the sports industry can bring to every person it touches.

"Marketing 4.0 is an approach that combines online and offline interactions between businesses and customers. In this digital economy, interaction is not enough on its own. Indeed, in an increasingly "online" world, having offline points of contact represents a strong differentiation. Marketing 4.0 also combines style and substance. While it is imperative that brands be more flexible and adaptive because of rapid technological trends, their authentic characters are more important than ever. (Philip Kotler, Marketing 4.0: the transition to digital)
In marketing 4.0, attention is more directly focused on the customer than on the product, the relationship between the customer and the brand, and the relationships and interactions between customers who are increasingly connected. Consumer choices are often driven by influencers or online communities and no longer by company-defined marketing strategies.

New data to collect, new spaces for sale

It's this new way of thinking about customer relationships that is driving change in sports marketing. It is now a question of apprehending the customers no more like a homogeneous group of behaviors but like a sum of individualities which it is necessary to know and to feed, to conquer them. Traditional and expected services such as the purchase of tickets, merchandising in official shops, the use of some informative content will not disappear. The use of social networks and digital technologies will continue its development to go beyond the sending of spam and invasive advertising, and offer new services and horizons to supporters but also to all partners who gravitate around the sports industry.

Fans and fans spontaneously gather in communities they manage themselves, without the control of brands, clubs or players. These communities allow direct exchanges between supporters and they reject all attempts to place or impose any product. That's why communities must be conquered and fans entertained.
We must then capture their attention, continuously and in real time to access and analyze the interests and data of community members, to provide them with the expected publicity without their noticing …

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How? By the content that is disseminated through four levers that change the rules of the game. First, the connectivity places allows live access to real-time services offered by sports clubs (merchandising, ticketing … ), interactions with the territory (transport, tourism), with other users (users produce content, real time) but also with rights holders to collect data to create new spaces for sale. With multichannel platforms, the accessibility of live streaming will change more and more the rights of televised social giants who invite themselves in the race for TV rights. As for augmented reality, its use makes possible the widening of the playing field, bringing in the stadium but also on the ground, a public sitting comfortably in its chair.

It also offers fans in sports venues content enriching "the stage experience" (the replay for example), which was unimaginable until recently. Similarly, the development of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions adapted to the world of sport transforms sports clubs into media companies. They can thus associate advertisers with the communication and the diffusion of contents and services, before, during and after the event.

Technology, Data, Behavior: The Industry 4.0 Model Applied to Sport 4.0

These changes related to Industry 4.0 are happening right before our eyes: IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, 3D printing, convergence of information systems, collaborative robots or cobots, complete collection and exploitation of data, the cloud , BigData analysis, virtual reality or augmented reality … All these technologies are behavioral data mining, interests and habits of the consumers for who knows how to exploit them but also have a direct application which enrich the sport practices to make them more fun, accessible, community-based, motivating … That's why technology and data have been used to improve the performance of the sports industry, resulting in a tremendous improvement in the customer experience, offering more details and nuances. Another effect induced brands (clubs or advertisers) increase the time spent in contact with fans (or customers) generating ever more opportunities for monetization of the relationship and services. The increase in the level of engagement of the fans becomes the measure to follow, these wishing to be more active, to be directly in touch with the event, the club or the athlete.

And technology contributes a lot. The all-electric formula championship allows fans to impact the course of the race. Via social networks and the Formula E app, they vote for their favorite driver and at each Grand ePrix, the three "most popular" drivers benefit from a speed boost at the halfway point. This promotes ePrix engagement and connects drivers, teams and fans.

Fan 4.0 at the heart of the new sport ecosystem

This deep connection with Marketing 4.0 and Industry 4.0 highlights the importance of the fan experience, in terms of commitment or loyalty as a pillar of the evolution of the Sport Business concept. Fan 4.0 is not only interested in the products that will satisfy them but also in the search for intangible counterparts that represent an added value for him. Its needs go beyond what is offered by the company's offer: the myths and stories of sport, the clamor of the crowd, the creative talents of the fans themselves. The values ​​in which he identifies are strong and anchored. If the Internet has increased the capacity to share these same values, while eliminating several barriers, it is up to the club or advertiser brand to create a unique identity for a larger or smaller community. Just like the athletes themselves.

Above all, fans have a real need to feel that they are part of their team, their favorite club. They want the ability to participate – even virtually – in formal or less formal activities. They want to interact with athletes, identify with the brand and share ideas, experiences and content with others.

Fan-American soccer marketing-sport iquii.JPG

When the NBA allies with Google to record the votes to form part of the teams of his famous All-Star Game, it wins and visibility thanks to the power of the search engine, and in interest to existing fans asqu it gives them the power to influence the composition of the team and to share their choices with the world. The fan is involved in the actual running of the match and the feeling of belonging is reinforced.

This is why the fan should not be considered as a person who needs a product; he has his own desires to satisfy, his anxieties to hunt, his creativity to express, his curiosity to satisfy. Ask, advise, evaluate, accompany, organize, share, search, in short understand the world around them. Establish a link with the fan is the task of the club or the challenge of the advertiser using the sport!

As a result, clubs are increasingly investing in new technologies and the world of innovation to meet this challenge. They are moving towards creating partnerships with "big" technology worlds like Real Madrid and Microsoft. Or they organize events mobilizing fans, experts or specialists in a field, such as hackathons, offering new services to fans like Manchester City FC who rewarded a working group around the establishment of a platform for hosting international fans by the club's historic fans for home games. Or the PSG, which through its partnership with, allows to associate his fans to some of the decisions made by the club, through the use of the blockchain.

Article written in collaboration with Aurélie Lienhart.

Credits: IQUII Sport.

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