The supporters’ perception of a club is growing in importance in terms of marketing goals and market growth ever since Social Media gave every user more freedom to interact with his favourite club. Moreover, a personal involvement in interactions is expected from people in today’s digitalised world. So, knowing your fans’ individual opinions is a good platform for prospective marketing strategies. These might concern partnerships, sponsoring or innovative ways of media coverage. Brazilian top club FC Santos bank on X-ray Alvinegro, a research tool based on Artificial Intelligence, that shall compile individualised user profiles of fans which mirror their reactions and opinions to happenings at the club.
What do FC Santos fans think about partnerships or signings?
Knowledge is power. And in marketing, data and knowledge make a promising partnership. That’s why FC Santos from Brazil, a team known for bringing through great players like Neymar, Robinho, Pelé and very recently Rodrygo, who will join Real Madrdid in the summer, are collaborating with Israeli startup KonnecTo and integrate the research initiative X-ray Alvinegro into their marketing strategy. As reported by Soccerex, this system is based on AI and its implementation is a first of its kind in the Brazilian football ecosystem.
Clubs need to make their fan profiles more knowledgeable in order to improve services, communication and products for them. In addition to having such data, it can develop its commercial platform more precisely,
commented Marcelo Frazão, marketing and communications executive at Santos. These data, that the system gathers, will be used to gain insights into fans’ attidutes towards operations at the club. It will determine how the supporters react to certain results, what they explicitly think of signings or hires and whether they think sponsors or partners are a good fit. And all these aspects will be considered individually.
If the club creates a dataset for their supporters online, they will be able to take that as a foundation for general and individual marketing solutions. One example might be, if there is a partnership in the pipeline, the club could elaborate whether the fans would appreciate it. And if they do so – according to the data – an analysis of the fans’ anticipated reaction would be a welcome asset in the negotiations.
Apart from that, the club could compose personalised messages or offers for specific fans much better than before.
Data sharing has its obstacles, though
The initiative from FC Santos, currently managed by well known Jorge Sampaoli, gives fans the option to participate – but of course they can also decline to take part. The data sharing itself shall be fully transparent, as Paulo Prado, director of KonnecTo in Brazil, adds:
This sharing is done in a totally transparent and safe way for the fan, where they decide what kind of information they want to share with us.
That could limit the impact of the solution. But Santos offer fans, who take part, discounts on items from their online shop and the chance to win a signed shirts. Hence they already merge anticipated user behaviour with marketing strokes. For clubs considering a similar apporach in the EU, there’s another obstacle: the GDPR. So collecting user or supporter data would have to clearly reveal the applications of the personal data. Still, getting to grips with variable and situational fan opinions and expectations will be extremely valuable for any club’s digital strategy. For it’s the supporters – mainly online and for the best part on mobile now – whose willingness to pay has to be capitalised on. In oder to measure and augment it, AI research on individual opionions is a way to go.