Major League Baseball


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Major League Baseball

  1. 1. Case StudyHow Major League Baseball Doubled FanResearch Without Increasing CostsAs seen on www.marketingprofs.comQuick Read: The Challenge:Each year, when Major League Baseballs post- Only in the last decade or so has the MLB turnedseason culminates with the World Series in Octo- to field research to validate and shape its businessber, all eyes are on the MLB or are they? With decisions. Once it was initiated, its value wasmost teams out of the running, do those teams quickly realized. But the time and costs associatedfans actually continue to watch? Are the time with primary research restricted the organizationand resources invested in marketing such high- from performing the breadth of fieldwork itprofile events worthwhile, or even in tune with true passion for the game? "We wanted to be in touch with our consumers asSuch insight used to be financially infeasible for often as we could, but we were limited somewhatthe MLBs Senior Director of Research Dan Derian. by budgets and costs," recalled Dan Derian,But the introduction of an online advisory panel senior director of late 2006—dubbed the "MLB Fans at Bat" andmade up of avid supporters from all over the The MLB had to find a more cost-effectivecountry—has allowed the organization to approach to research.successfully double its research efforts.Moreover, it helped make the 2007 postseasonfar less ambiguous, answering not only whichfans tuned in but also whether(1) Dane Cook was a good spokesperson;2) the message was communicated clearly;(3) and the overall creative material wason target.
  2. 2. Case StudyHow Major League Baseball Doubled Fan Research Without Increasing CostsThe Campaign:On the recommendation of his National Hockey "We can segment a sample of this size so that weLeague counterpart, Derian contacted Vision can still do a survey every couple of days if weCritical, a Canada-based firm that specializes in want to without inundating [the panelists] tooWeb-based panel management tools. In August often, and the results are still representative," said2006, the "MLB Fans at Bat" online customer advi- Derian. Responses tend to indicate a trend aftersory panel began to be implemented. the first several hundred replies, he said.Close to 20,000 panelists were recruited from the Questions typically cover a range of topics, registered user database via an intro- feedback about a particular ad or the fit of aductory email message: potential sponsor with the MLB brand, to which team has improved most during the off-season or"You have been selected to join a newly created whom theyd like to see participate in the HomeMajor League Baseball advisory panel made up Run Derby. "We have to be conscious of the typesentirely of fans just like you. By signing up, you will of surveys were sending out. We are often explor-be asked to give us your opinion on a wide variety ing very specific business issues...but it is impor-of topics important to MLB. Major League Baseball tant to balance our business objectives with thefans are some of the smartest and most vocal fans issues [our panelists] find interesting from a fanin all of professional sports, so here is your chance perspective," said talk to us and help make a difference. We arelistening." As part of its licensing agreement with Vision Critical, MLB can send out as many surveys as itRather than rely on incentives to encourage desires, to the entire panel or any segment, atparticipation, MLB decided it could leverage the any time, by independently copying and pastingtrue passion of its fans and positioned the panel as its questions into Vision Criticals "Panel+" applica-an "opportunity to share their thoughts, to stand tion. It allows such questions to be structured asup and be counted," said Derian. single select, multi-select, rank, or open-ended, and surveys can further include images andWilling participants were asked to complete a video, which have been particularly effective forlengthy profiling questionnaire that enabled the testing logos, uniforms, and television ads.MLB to screen them according to demographicsand team affinity and easily determine subsets Reporting through the Panel+ system recordswithin the sample, as needed. This data was later every response and connects new data with allappended to all supplemental surveys, drawing a previously generated findings. Data can then bemore complete picture each time research was manipulated in the online system and exportedperformed. to MLBs own Excel, PowerPoint or PDF programs.The first survey was conducted in November 2006,and since then panelists have been sent a newquestionnaire once a month on average, creat-ing an ongoing dialogue with the fans withoutoverwhelming them.
  3. 3. Case StudyHow Major League Baseball Doubled Fan Research Without Increasing CostsThe Results: Lessons Learned:Great response rates: Whether because of the A direct link is preferable: Managing the panelnew medium, the perceived privilege of in-house has saved both time and money, givenparticipating, or simply the fervor of its fans, the MLB more control over its research, and devel-MLBs surveys have had high response rates: on oped a dialogue with fans that allows the organi-average, 50% for surveys completed to date—7% zation to keep tabs on market preferences.higher than the average for Vision Critical clientpanels. About 44% of the "MLB Fans at Bat" panel- Balance your samples needs with your own:ists participate at least 60% of the time. Panelists eager to participate can quickly become alienated if not stimulated with ques-More research: The ability to send out more tions they find interesting. Accordingly, MLBsurveys has permitted the MLB to double its field designs its surveys to include game-related topicsresearch efforts and cover a wider range of that speak to the passion of these fans and helptopics. "The value has been significant in terms of compensate for questions related to MLBwhat weve gotten from replicating studies weve business objectives.done in past, in addition to those we might nothave done due to the cost implications previ- Refrain from inundating your sample: To nurtureously," said Derian. "Weve done at least twice as ongoing participation, Derian suggests solicitingmany surveys as we would have done had we each panelist once a month at most. By recruit-needed to go out of house," he added. More- ing a large sample up front, he enabled his orga-over, MLB has used the technology internally, and nization to conduct considerable research andfound it to be a great tool for surveying staff and achieve representative results without over-evaluating corporate initiatives. whelming panelists.Faster turnaround: With the panel in-house, MLBcan initiate a new survey the very day itdecides to do so, and results arrive within hoursrather than weeks. On average, MLB receives80-85% of its feedback within the first 36 hours.A well-qualified and readily available sample: Byrecruiting from the database, MLBsaved the costs of purchasing samples withoutforfeiting its requisite for devoted baseball fans.And because these panelists opted in, theyappear more willing to participate. To "keep the by: Kimberly Smithpanel fresh" and make room for new participants, site: www.marketingprofs.comMLB regularly purges "non-responders," who aver- published:1/8/2008age 12% per survey.