The Philadelphia Phillies was founded in 1883 and was first known as the “Quakers”, the team then changed its name to the “Philadelphias” but was soon shortened to Phillies and officially became the name in 1890. The team is one of the oldest, one-name and one city franchise in all professional sports as well. Al Reach, a professional baseball player became the first owner along with attorney John Rogers. In 1901, after losing several games and also some of their best players, the team was sold for the first time. The Phillies had the second-longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in American professional sports, 16 straight from 1933 to 1948. The franchise has won two World Series championships and seven National League pennants. The Phillies had won five different home stadiums. The most recent one has a fan-friendly design and is part of their complex marketing strategy to increase revenue and happy customers. The franchise is estimated to be worth $893 million. But, how does a sports team keep increasing its revenue even during bad seasons? The Phillies not only represent a changeable and unpredictable “product/brand” but also compete in a market with many other substitutes that may take away fun attention, support and possible sponsorships.
The Phillies as any other sports team have a major challenge, their own product/brand offered. Marketing and advertising a sports team is like offering the latest, most efficient dishwasher, made with the best materials that every customer wants to enjoy at home, but there is a catch that the machine may perform its best only at certain times. Sports teams like The Phillies, battle to keep actual fans as well as gain new ones in a highly competitive market where other options that easily can substitute them, are available. Competing against others is not easy, especially during or after a bad season. If the customer is not a diehard fan, after seeing the team lose 3 of 4 games, going on a vacation with friends may seem way more appealing than sitting for hours in a stadium to see a team that is constantly loosing or what if instead of wasting money on the Phillies team, the fans decide to save that money to go see their favorite NFL team which may be doing way better than the Phillies.
Another problem for the Phillies is to be able to keep their best players, as the team has experienced before, when of their best players get a better pay contract from another team, its difficult to make another bid to keep them, especially when the team is emotionally down and hopeless that things may improve next season. Every time a player that is fans' favorite changes teams, revenues seem to be affected by changes in market loyalty. Loyalty is a very important but also unpredictable variable in the sports market. It is what it is, either you are or not a team fan, but once you lost a fan the possibilities to bring that fan back are slim.
The Phillies target a complex market segmented in six very different groups, “The Diehards, Kids 14 years and under, Women and man 15 years and older, Seniors 60 years and over, the 20 and 30 something, and Corporate and community” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). In other words, the Phillips has to meet and exceed the need and expectation of every individual who follows the team for a variety of reasons. Targeting such a diverse market requires a strong marketing strategy and excellent brand management. So far, the team has built a new stadium, which includes a better design, where fun can be closer and with a better view of the field. Also, the stadium is not only about enjoying the game but making new friends, getting together with co-workers, taking the kids to a baseball field to try a swing. Also, The Phillies run a series of activities throughout the whole year as its way to keep engaging fans; generate interest, attract new ones, and keep revenues coming, even during the off-season months. The company runs activities such as “series of TV ads, special promotion days, theme nights devoted to special community groups or other fan segments, event days (like picture taken with your favorite player), dollars dog night, premiums or giveaways like baseball caps, beach towels, T-shirts” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). There are other activities they do as well during the year such as, players appearance at charities, special events paid by sponsors, radio and TV ads.
The Phillies current revenue comes from: “52% comes from ticket sales, 13% from national media, another 13% comes from local media, 12% from advertising and, just 10% from concessions” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). The idea is to manage the brand in a way that revenues would increase even during and after a bad season, which means that the team has to focus in earning brand loyalty. It is important to understand the consumer behaviors, “the actions a person takes in purchasing and using products and services, including the mental and social processes that come before and after these actions.” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). Since the Phillies market is divided in six different segments, it is important to analyze what makes each segment come to the games, or buy the teams merchandise. What is like to experience the product and brand after losing or winning a game? What keeps a fan keeps supporting their team after a bad season? Knowing and understanding this answer is crucial in order to plan a successful marketing strategy. The Phillies need to apply a strategy called Product Differentiation “a strategy that involve the use of different marketing mix activities, such a product features and advertising, to help consumers perceive the product as being different and better than competing products” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). Although the Phillies are creating lateral products to meet the needs and wants of each one of its segment, scanning the market environment is vital to keep developing the right product for each one of them. What is appealing for the market today may not be so appealing tomorrow or next year.
In June 2003, Citizens Bank and the Phillies announced a 25-year partnership that included naming rights to the team's new ballpark and a broad-based, innovative media package. When the $95 million agreement was announced, both Citizens Bank and the Phillies highlighted their passionate commitment to the communities and neighborhoods that make up the Philadelphia region. During the five years, Citizens Bank has worked with the Phillies to expand and enhance the community outreach, including increased support for the Phillies Rookie League program, fundraising campaigns for Philabundance and the Philadelphia Fire Department, and complimentary programs for Phillies fans. These programs have raised more than $4,000 for the Philadelphia Fire Department to buy smoke alarms, donated more than 3,500 baseball gloves to the Phillies Rookie League, which reaches 5,500 inner city children in 70 locations throughout the region and much more! As we can see, these types of partnerships are positive for the team, because it not only enhances the possibility to reach a bigger market for both parties, but also represent the organization social responsibility.
Another strategy that should be apply daily into each effort that Phillies do is Positioning the Product “the place a product occupies in consumer's minds on important attributes relative to competitive products” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). Something to focus on after a bad season is Product Repositioning, a statement that brings up the best of the brand no matter what even during its bad times. The Phillies could use their strong background and bring up, how they keep strong, unified and hopeful after a bad season, because it brings them together as a family that doesn't give up. In order to successfully manage a product, is important to understand the product life cycle. The Phillies as a whole brand is not in the introduction stage, but it's expansion of products may conclude that the brand is between the end of maturity and the starting phase of declining. Based on this the Phillies should focus on finding new customers, reaching new markets, reacting to a competitor position, catching a rising trend and increasing a product use. One strategy could be creating a series of events targeted to each segment, like: outdoors movie nights for family, friend and couples, creation of minor baseball league for children, or other activities such as concerts and attractions that accomodate everyone. In this way, the stadium not only can become more profitable, but also can keep the connection with fans during off-season months. The stadium could become a very attractive tourist place to attract new fans and spread the word about the team and its background.
Last but not least, the Phillies needs to focus on branding, “when organizations uses a name, phrase, design, symbols, or combinations of these to identify its products and distinguish them from those of competitors” (Kerin, Hartley, Rudelius, 2013). The team needs to use its well-recognized mascot to reinforce the brand in people's mind, the mascot should be part of every event, visiting schools, parks and stadium visits. In conclusion the Phillies needs to keep creating its Brand Equity, by developing positive brand awareness, brand's meaning in the mind of consumers and create consumer brand connection evident in an intense, active loyalty relation consumer-brand. The brand should remind the target market, that Phillies is their home team, that the team is there doing their best to bring the prize home, keeping the city name up. Although, changing the logo and slogan now and then to fit the target market is a good thing as well. The logo should maintain a piece that would always be in consumers mind. So far the logo had changed at least 10 times, that means around 1 time every ten years. The team has totally change its logo through its history, which could hurt the brand. Changes made to the brand, should be done carefully and in a time manner. For Sport team's branding, memorabilia and souvenirs are a big deal. Hats, jerseys, jackets, key holders, car adhesives, plate holders, etc., it is a great way to keep the loyalty of fans and reinforce the brand name in people's' mind. A Phillies plate holder on a car, can open the conversation on a group of friends that are gathering together at that moment, as it may bring word of mouth that spread the voice about the team. It's also important to have good quality and designs for the products as well as style is a great way to meet a customers expectations. The team can also go around to schools and community events to help raily for certain events such as anti-drug campaigns and fire safety.
The Philadelphia Phillies has experienced from the worst to the best through its 100 years in the market. Although, the market today is more unpredictable than it has ever been, technology is taking away human interaction and social media seems to be a very comfortable way to stay connected without leave home, there are great marketing tools that help organizations keep surviving in this challengeable market, but, as long as the Phillies keep scanning the environment market, the team would be able to see what is coming, by investing in marketing strategies that fit their market and the market needs and wants.
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