Case Study

Columbus Blue Jackets, Fan Base Expansion

The Context

To continue as a successful National Hockey League (NHL) franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets must ensure that attendance at its games remains high. Beginning play in 2000, the Blue Jackets immediately captured the excitement and interest of thousands of fans in the state and region, and the franchise enjoyed high levels of attendance until an NHL-wide labor dispute occurred. After play resumed, the Blue Jackets needed to not only solidify its existing fan base but expand this base as well. But how many potential fans would consider attending a game, and what would trigger them to do so?

The Critical Questions

How many potential fans may there be in Central Ohio? What educational and promotional messages may best attract their attention so that they would consider attending a game at Nationwide Arena?

Our Solution

Our research team designed and implemented an audience segmentation survey of Central Ohio residents. Because this method relied on representative sampling, the survey results could be generalized back to the underlying population. After the data were collected, we conducted both simple and advanced statistical analyses (e.g., cluster/segmentation analysis) to better understand how different groups within the general public felt about and acted with regard to the Blue Jackets.

Illumination

This research effort produced reliable data and marketing insights that allowed the franchise to identify specific groups of individuals in the population who were curious about the franchise and the sport but needed a bit more information and incentive to attend a game.

Resolution

The results from this audience segmentation research were used by the Blue Jackets to target its marketing efforts. During the next season, average attendance increased by nearly 750 per game – a significant increase.