March 22, 2011: The San Francisco Giants may have won the 2010 World Series, but they failed to take the title of the team with the most loyal fans. That honor goes to the Philadelphia Phillies, according to marketing and research firm Brand Keys, which has released the 2011 Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Engagement Index to coincide with the start of the MLB season.
The Sports Loyalty Index, now in its 19th season, was designed "to help professional sports teams’ management identify precise fan loyalty rankings in hometown [and national] markets," according to Robert Passikoff, founder and president of New York-based Brand Keys. “These insights allow league and team marketers to identify areas that need strategic brand coaching,” said Passikoff in a statement.
Brand Keys said it surveyed 250 fans within the market of each pro team in baseball, the NFL, NBA and NHL in February to help accumulate information. “Everybody loves a winner, but it’s important to note that win/loss ratios do not entirely govern fan loyalty," said Passikoff.
The Sports Loyalty Index is based on four factors:
• Pure Entertainment: How well a team performs, but more importantly, how exciting is their play?
• Authenticity: How well they play as a team (and in the case of MLB is it natural talent or steroid-enhanced performance?). New stadia can help propel this driver, and sometimes a new manager.
• Fan Bonding: Are players respected and admired?
• History and Tradition: Is the game, and the team, part of a fan’s and a community’s rituals, institutions and beliefs?
According to Brand Keys, the Sports Loyalty Engagement Index provides a direct comparison of the intensity with which fans within the team’s market support the home team versus corresponding values for fans of other teams in the market. “That’s important because fan loyalty correlates highly with broadcast viewership, merchandise purchase and ticket revenue," said Passikoff. "And happier fans, as well."
In 2010, Brand Key's Sports Loyalty Index ranked the top five MLB teams as Boston, the Yankees, Philadelphia, a tie between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Dodgers and a tie between the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the 2009 Sports Loyalty Index, the top five MLB teams were Boston, Philadelphia, a tie between the New York Yankees and Mets, the Anaheim Angels and the Oakland A's.
The bottom five MLB teams, per the 2011 Sports Loyalty Index are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners.
What does that mean?
“Since overall league and team rankings do correlate with viewership and merchandise sales, and rankings can be influenced depending upon how loyalty drivers are managed, it’s critical that team marketers do accurate scouting regarding the strategic ball they intend to pitch to the fans,” said Passikoff.
The 2011 Sports Loyalty Index for the NFL, NBA and NHL used the same parameters as it did for MLB. Their findings:
National Football League
1. New England Patriots
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Green Bay Packers
5. New York Jets
1. Oakland Raiders
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Washington Redskins
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Carolina Panthers
National Basketball Assn.
1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Boston Celtics
5. Phoenix Suns
1. Charlotte Bobcats
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Minnesota Timberwolves/Golden State Warriors
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Atlanta Hawks/Toronto Raptors
National Hockey League
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. San Jose Sharks
4. Vancouver Canucks
5. Boston Bruins
1. Atlanta Thrashers
2. St. Louis Blues
3. New York Islanders
4. Phoenix Coyotes
5. Tampa Bay Lightening/Nashville Predators
Source: Brand Keys
On The Ball: Brand Keys 2010 Sports Loyalty Index