There has been an explosion of interest in “fantasy” sports in recent years. Rather than relying on Sunday night football or SportCenter’s nightly highlight reel, Millennials are building their own teams, betting against their friends and co-workers, and tracking stats – all without attending a single sporting event. It’s all about what they can do from the palm of their hand, utilizing the digital connectivity and seamlessness that smartphones provide. In fact, according to new research by Mintel, consumer interactions with brands are increasingly starting with a mobile device.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s not time for sports brands and venues to throw in the towel. Instead, it’s time for them to focus in on a consumer segment who not only desires to gain new experiences, but who is also willing to spend the money on them: Affluent Millennials.
The Affluent Millennial cohort is made up of more than 6.2 million individuals born after 1977 that make an annual household income of $100,000 or more. Although they account for just around 10 percent of the Millennial population, their power and influence over the entirety of the group makes them an important target for brands hoping to find success with these consumers across the board. While we often look to the Millennial generation as trendsetters of the market at large, Affluent Millennials are in fact the trendsetters within the generation itself.
This stems from the fact that unlike non-Affluent Millennials, Affluent Millennials are able to act on all of their aspirations without needing to consider price vs. quality. Whereas Millennials in general often say one thing and do another (most Millennials will say they only buy organic, for example, but then run through the checkout with the inexpensive off-brand), Affluent Millennials are unfettered from worrying about issues of general affordability. They do not have to be Day Traders, who trade-up or trade-down based on what they can afford and have to have at that moment; they simple buy the things they want, and those things typically have some type of status symbol attached.
The same goes for commodities within the experience economy. Affluent Millennials can take the great adventures, chart the less traveled paths and embrace the risks they wish to pursue. Oh, and spend $9 on a beer, $6 on a hotdog, $12 on a tub of popcorn, and $40 on that limited edition t-shirt, all for hanging out in their $200-plus stadium seats.
So, before brands in this space become remiss and allow digital streaming to take over, they need to be aware of one key fact about these prosperous consumers — experiences win out over products. Every single time. What brands need to focus in on is how to market those experiences. This begins with understanding the need for co-creation, co-participation and experience innovation as demanded by Millennial consumers. Not only do brands need to offer the best experiences they can as related to Millennial interests, but they need to build relationships with their Millennial consumers to ensure the delivery of an authentic, meaningful experience. Editorial Authority is a major component of this, meaning brands must know what they stand for and align that purpose with every piece of communication they share out with consumers.
Sporting brands also shouldn’t be afraid of going above and beyond in regards to experience innovation with Affluent Millennial clientele in mind. These consumers will pay more for premium experiences that result in quality, lasting memories that they can share with their networks for years to come. If aligned with this outcome, brands will no doubt find success among this group, as well as find aspirational relevance among non-Affluent Millennials.