Soccer Marketing: The Colorado Rapids’ Bet on Millennials
What: We talked to Alyssa Bruno, Marketing Director for the Colorado Rapids, about what strategies are working the best to grow the team within the MLS.
Why It Matters: Founded in 1996, the team sees the young and multicultural audience of Denver, Colorado, as their best bet for growth.
The main objective of Alyssa Bruno, Director of Marketing for the Colorado Rapids, is to get people into the seats at the Colorado Rapids’ stadium, using the live experience to turn them into new fans.
“I’m really in charge of bringing in that single-ticket buyer. Our sales pipeline is the buyer who either has been to a Rapids game, but hasn’t really engaged with the team, or those who haven’t been to a game before or haven’t experienced the brand before, and bring those people in to develop them,” she said.
The team is looking to generate more ticket sales, including season tickets. Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where the MLS team plays, has 19,680 seats. In November 2016, the Rapids established their own attendance record with 18,759 occupied seats. Even so, the average attendance during its regular season was 16,278.
“As a club our ultimate goal is to sell as much of the stadium [seats] as we can, through season tickets, members, and a fan base that is truly engaged and very passionate, and create that experience in the stadium,” said Bruno.
As a club our ultimate goal is to sell as much of the stadium [seats] as we can.
To sell tickets, the marketing team’s emphasis is on generating brand awareness through 360-degree campaigns, where the brand has an all-around presence—from online media and social networks, to billboards and activations around specific games. "They all have to complement each other," she said.
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However, Bruno admits that most of the innovation has been in online advertising. Once a week, the marketing team meets with the digital team to update and establish new online strategies. "Once a week, we talk with our digital team about a new idea to advertise to people and how we can target them in a more specific and efficient way."
Among the main things they’ve discovered is that consumers move around more on their mobiles and tablets, so that is where the team's brand needs to be. This also allows the team to measure exactly what they see, and to know even which player they prefer.
The perfect target
Keeping in mind how important connectivity and mobility are for their fans, Bruno directs her efforts specifically towards two demographics. "My targeting efforts go towards millennials from the general market and the Hispanic millennial. Denver is a very dense market for millennials."
My targeting efforts go towards millennials from the general market and the Hispanic millennial. Denver is a very dense market for millennials.
According to Bruno, Denver is one of the cities with the highest number of millennials moving to the city. "We are taking advantage of that opportunity to really grow the fan base with the growing demographic here in Denver," she explained.
A New York Times article, published in July 2016, stated that "according to a Brookings Institution analysis of population movement from 2009-14, Colorado had a net annual migration gain of 12,682 people ages 25 to 34, the highest of any metropolitan area in the United States. That means an average of 12,682 more millennials per year moved here than left, for each of the five years measured."
Among Hispanic millennials, the Rapids take special care of the target they are looking for, since they do not want to be just another team to the fans of La Liga Espanola, or Liga MX. "We are looking for people whose parents or grandparents did (follow those leagues) and they are now introduced to that soccer culture and are comfortable and knowledgeable about the sport, but they don’t have a personal connection and are able to connect with the Rapids rather than have this match elsewhere," added Bruno.
The team seeks to establish their own relationships, ahead of other leagues, and it achieves this through a constant conversation with its followers on social networks, as well as through stadium activations to create an energetic atmosphere that attracts a younger audience.