Game on: New study shows which sports teams have the greenest fans

Game on: New study shows which sports teams have the greenest fans
December 29, 2020
Posted by:
Garrett Wong

By Kristen Fulmer

Ever wondered which sports team has the most sustainable fans? From the perspective of a rights holder, this is becoming a critical question. The answers will drive business decisions for venue operations, fan engagement and brand partnership activation. For the green sports movement, the answers may be the key to solidifying the importance of integrating sustainability into sports.A new report by Recipric, powered by Zoomph’s technology, helps us understand the answer.Recipric, an agency that represents sustainability and positive change within sports, leveraged Zoomph’s Audience Analysis Tool to help answer this question. Together, they co-published Sustainability in Sports, a report that ranks teams from various professional leagues — including baseball, football, basketball and soccer — according to which teams have the most "sustainability-minded" fans. The report also reveals which teams are most likely to have fans that are vegetarian, have an affinity for the outdoors, a particular stance on climate justice, and those most likely to follow Al Gore and Greta Thunberg.

It solidifies that sustainability can be enhanced through the power of sport because of the overlap between sports lovers and people that seek positive change.

To reach these rankings, Zoomph’s platform started with about 342 million anonymized profiles. It developed the sustainability-minded audience by capturing a list of terms that someone interested in sustainability may use in their Twitter bio, or by tagging accounts that a climate activist may follow. From there, a segmented audience of more than 500,000 profiles was cross-referenced against Zoomph’s sports analytics platform to understand who this sustainability-minded audience may follow, including sports leagues, teams and brands.To guide fan engagement strategies and to activate brand partnerships, sports teams often will poll their fan base to gain an understanding of their spending habits, their hobbies or even their passions outside of sports. While this may tell a story about the preferences targeted by a survey, Zoomph unpacks tendencies on social media without explicitly asking questions. This provides raw insights into a particular group of sports fans, but can tap into interests, brand endorsement and even behavioral data in a way that a survey question may not.While it’s fun to see if assumptions line up with the results of the study, this data can be hugely impactful to the larger sports industry. Teams can look at this data to understand the specific interests of their followers, which can guide on-the-ground community engagement strategies that drive ticket sales or can tell them how to better leverage their brand partners. Brands can use this data to understand which team or even which league may provide the most engaged audience. Even agents could gauge the interests of their represented athletes’ followers to understand the value of a sponsorship deal.An example from the report highlights U.S. pro sports teams most likely to have vegetarian or vegan followers. The shortlist shows the top five:

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
  2. New England Patriots (NFL)
  3. Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
  4. Golden State Warriors (NBA)
  5. Boston Red Sox (MLB)

While a casual fan may enjoy making assumptions about the stereotypical tendencies of each of these team’s fans, reasoning the list against demographic trends, or positing about various geographies, this list actually can mean big business for the rights holders and potential brands.

Not surprisingly, the Lakers and Beyond Meat launched an official partnership in 2019, and JaVale McGee, a Laker at the time, was named an official brand ambassador. However, the Lakers can continue to leverage these findings to identify additional vendors for the Staples Center, create a "Plant-Based Day" with incentives to support a local plant-based restaurant, or provide discounted tickets to plant-based fans. With the power of the analytics, a team can drive holistic positive change that engages their fans while taking climate action and improving health and well-being.This study highlights the importance of sustainability-driven values for rights holders to engage with their fan base and to potentially tap into a larger audience. This drives revenue and is so critical to sustainability professionals charged with creating a data-driven strategy.It solidifies that sustainability can be enhanced through the power of sport because of the overlap between sports lovers and people that seek positive change.

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