Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Atlanta Braves on the couch.

          Would you like an example of why marketers should be students of psychology?

          The Atlanta Braves, the National League Baseball team, has won 14 division titles since 1991. The New York Times says that's unprecedented. The Braves have played in five World Series in that time.  And yet, they've suffered a 31% drop in attendance.

           One would obviously expect attendance to remain high for a team doing well, so what's going on? Those who have studied the situation say that Braves fans have grown complacent. The games have become boring --- just win, win, win.

           We in marketing can learn a lot from that. Are we offering something fresh and new? In the product or in the experience? If not, are we at least presenting it in a way that's fresh and new? People like "new", whether they're early adopters or not.

            Sure, there are people who buy a new Chevy every three years on automatic pilot, but by then the cars are usually different enough to merit the decision. In a lot of towns, the only dealer around is the Chevy dealer, and maybe Ford.

           One car company whose line has become a bit tired is Toyota, and the c.e.o. in Japan recognizes the problem. He has told his staff to pay more attention to the American market, and do something fresh.

           One time-honored brand that seems to know what to do is Chanel. Chanel No. 5 has been around unchanged since Coco created it, and it's still the best-selling perfume in the world. Every year, Chanel has a new advertising campaign for No. 5, and knocks its customers' socks off. Each new commercial is so well done it's a hit on YouTube, for extra viewership at no cost.

           At the same time, every new commercial they do is a story consistent with Chanel's carefully guarded branding, the archetypical story of the strong, smart, independent woman. New actors, alluring new tale, same branding.

           There are lots of things the Braves' marketing people can do.  Special events, charity games, prizes, special days for veterans, kids, women, the disabled. Stage shows after the games, fireworks, and so on. And if they do those, think of something else.

           Another example of psychology in marketing. We're indebted to you, Dr. Freud.

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