Why fan loyalty is more important than ever

Now, more than ever, fan engagement and loyalty drives success for sports. Jenni Young, CMO at Tappit explains why getting closer to your fan makes more business sense than ever before.

Did you know that people are more loyal to their bank than their partner? Taking things a step further, it turns out that sports fans are more loyal to their teams than any other brand. As a result, clubs and teams often take their fans for granted. But times are changing. Your supporter isn’t a supporter for life any more.  Fan loyalty, once assumed as a given, is now changing. Loyalty matters and can you really say your club is doing enough? Here are three big reasons why.


  1. Loyalty drives revenue.

The stats speak for themselves. If you ensure loyalty, the business value increases in terms of length of relationship and share of spend. 

  • A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit. (Bain & Company)
  • A business’ top 10% of customers spend 3x more than the average customer.  (Adobe)
  • Your chance of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while your chance of selling to a brand new customer is 5-20%. (Marketing Metrics)
  • Customers with an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 45%. (Motista)


2. Fan behaviours are changing – one team is not for life

Research by COPA 90 highlighted that  57% of sports industry leaders cite the shift in consumer behaviour of younger generations as the ‘top threat faced by the industry’. 

The same COPA report pointed out that 46% of 16-24 year old fans in the UK support a second team, and of those 27% support three teams or more. The challenge is clear. Loyalty matters and the battle for £ is like never before. 


3. Increased competition for your fan 

Sports are re-inventing themselves to attract new fans and new audiences. UK sports fans now have so much choice of not only which sport to follow, but how to engage with them. The NFL and NBA are becoming increasingly high profile in the UK and with the launch of The Hundred and netball’s resurgence – competition is bigger than ever before for hearts, minds and spend. Furthermore, the growth in Esports means that people don’t even have to leave their homes to engage with sports they love. It is now more important than ever before to reward fans for their loyalty. 


But how can you create and reward loyalty?

At Tappit we have a 3 step process to loyalty. We believe that engagement plus adoption will in turn deliver loyalty and revenue. And the good news is – it’s not that difficult. It all starts with going cashless. Once you have the data and the insights – you can really start to build that fan loyalty.

How Tappit brings you closer to your fans



Step 1.Understand your fan

The first step to creating loyalty is to actually understand your fan. If you don’t know their habits – both at the game and throughout the year – it makes it impossible to reward loyalty and increase the relationship between club and fan. If you don’t have that data (clue: and you won’t if you don’t have a cashless system) then you’re stuck at Step 1, and no amount of customer surveys and focus groups will change it.

Step 2.Reward and encourage your audience in ways that matter to them.

So you need to have Step 1 firmly in place. Would someone who parks in the car park and buys soft drinks at a game every week without fail, be interested in beer promotion? Unlikely. Imagine, if you could reach out to them and offer them an additional soft drink or snack if they came down to the venue a bit earlier before kick off, instead of their usual 1 hour? (which you also know from the parking data). Which leads us nicely on to Step 3…

Step 3.Reap the benefits of an engaged fanbase

You have fans that appreciate the offers they’re sent. The communication is relevant, it adds value to their fan experience and what’s more – you’re tailoring offers in a way that helps grow your business. Longer dwell times, more fans at the pre-match entertainment, more eyeballs for your sponsorships and longer opportunities to purchase at your retail and food and beverage stands. 

The result is increased loyalty, engagement and revenue. It’s the perfect solution to the battle for the fans’ spend and eyeballs. 


The big take home – Don’t take your fans for granted. 

In 2016 a Bosnian football fan asked all 92 English football clubs which team he should choose to support. Only ten clubs actually chose to respond and  the answers varied – check them out  here.  The question is, 4 years later, with increasing competition for fans’ time and money  – what would the responses be?  


Enjoyed this post? Why not share it:

Stay in the loop

Once a month we'll deliver the latest industry news, trends and exclusive content, straight to your inbox.