Sports Are For Everyone, Everywhere

Is it just me, or does is seem like sports are EVERYWHERE? One of the beauties of sports is that nearly anyone is capable of following or participating in them. Whether you are in line at the grocery store or eating Thanksgiving dinner, ask around and chances are most people will have at least one favorite team or has played a sport in their lifetime. There is something about sports that seems to captivate us as a society, and for each fan this “something” may carry a different meaning. That is where the sports marketing concept of segmentation comes in. Segmentation allows sports organizations break down their consumers based on their wants and desires from which they derive satisfaction. This process is characterized by two primary types of segmentation:

State-of-being segmentation: divides consumers up by personal characteristics, including geography, age, income, education, gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

 State-of-mind segmentation: divides consumers by personality traits, by lifestyle characteristics such as interests, opinions and attitudes, and by preferences and perceptions. Determined through the use of the VALS typology, which identifies specific segments of adults based on resources and primary motivations, such as ideals, achievement, and self-expression.

When utilized properly, both segmentation types serve as extremely effective methods for communicating to the intended audience. To evidence this point, take a look at the television advertisement aired this January by my favorite National Hockey League team, the Columbus Blue Jackets:

One of the most obvious takeaways from this commercial is that the dramatic music, scenes, and cinematography are designed to create a feeling of intensity and excitement within the viewer. There are also multiple clips of fans cheering and dancing, including an appearance by Stinger, the team mascot. This combination effectively communicates to fans that Blue Jackets home games consist of a fun and exciting environment. When looking at the team’s state-of-being segmentation, this suggests that the advertisement is targeted toward fans whose age ranges from late childhood to middle aged adulthood. This conveys the message that children can attend games and have fun, while teenagers and adults can enjoy an invigorating, wild atmosphere. In addition, this commercial successfully targets multiple income levels by showing fans of varying degrees of commitment. Some are presumably highly committed, as their jerseys might suggest, while others are seen wearing regular t-shirts. This demonstrates the idea that Blue Jackets games, while highly entertaining, are still affordable enough for less committed fans to attend. The advertisement also shows fans of varying races and genders, implying that all fans are welcome and capable of enjoying the gameday experience regardless of these personal traits.

Of all eight segments identified by the VALS typology in state-of-mind segmentation, this advertisement mostly targets individuals within the experiencers segment. Experiencers are motivated by self-expression, and tend to have lots of energy that they exert into physical and social activity. In the context of this advertisement it is clear that many of the Blue Jackets fans possess these characteristics, as evidenced by the chaos that erupts when a goal is scored and other antics showcased by the fans. This is a powerful reinforcement of the message the organization is attempting to communicate.

Now we will analyze this Blue Jackets poster advertisement, promoting a student discount program called CBJ Student Rush:


By taking advantage of CBJ Student Rush program, all high school and college students can purchase $15 Upper Level tickets and $25 Lower Level tickets to all Blue Jackets home games. A free offer from Papa John’s is also included, and who loves sports and pizza more than college students? I can answer that from personal experience- absolutely nobody! Therefore, this is a well-designed promotional tactic employed by both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Papa John’s. The state-of-being segmentation narrows the advertisement audience to high school and college-aged students, which in turn associates it with lower income levels as well. Many are on a budget, but a discounted ticket price and free Papa John’s provides a strong incentive for them to attend home games. This could result in a wider-reaching base of young, energetic fans- just what a sports organization needs to build toward the future. This offer is also available to any high school or college student currently enrolled in school, even if they are living or studying outside the state of Ohio. Therefore, the geographic segmentation of this advertisement is virtually wide open, allowing students from further distances to experience the many benefits of CBJ Student Rush as well.

When approaching this poster through the lens of state-of-mind segmentation, the makers classification is the directly targeted group. Makers are similar to experiencers in that they are motivated by self-expression, but are limited in the amount of resources they have. Therefore, these individuals tend to concentrate their efforts on building toward the future instead of spending all of the resources they have now. Given the financial situation of most students, many are forced to allocate their funds toward commodities such as tuition, gasoline, and food rather than toward tickets to a professional hockey game. Through the implementation of CBJ Student Rush, however, these individuals are provided with the opportunity to see the Blue Jackets in action without breaking the bank.

Although we only explored two advertisements in this week’s post, it is clear to see that a single sports organization is capable of reaching various groups based on the segmentation used in their advertising. Everything from pump-up commercials to special offer posters can be used to reach specific clusters of individuals, which can ultimately be brought together to form a loyal, involved, and diverse fan base.


-Collin Wallace


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