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Guest Column: IPLomania - Audiences pursuing cricket, sponsors pursuing audiences: Vishal Baghel Hansa Research

Guest Column: IPLomania - Audiences pursuing cricket, sponsors pursuing audiences: Vishal Baghel Hansa Research

Author | Vishal Baghel | Monday, May 23,2016 7:58 AM

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Guest Column: IPLomania - Audiences pursuing cricket, sponsors pursuing audiences: Vishal Baghel Hansa Research

With a captive audience the IPL provides a tremendous opportunity for brands to be associated with the franchise, and more importantly recalled by their audience writes Vishal Baghel, former GM, Hansa Research.

Cats don’t really have nine lives, but the myth has perpetuated through ages due to their ability to jump and always land on their feet … something the IPL (in its 9th edition now) has demonstrated over the seasons. From hopping a few matches to different venues, to leaping across seas and taking the entire tourney to South Africa, to somersaulting players between various teams, to lurching and scrapping entire teams.

The feline personality can also be seen in its ardent following despite its fickle nature. It is louder, larger, and more addictive than anything before. Something so sassy and blingy, that the new age could identify with, due to its heady mix of fast cricket, loud music, fashionable celebrities and razzmatazz, not necessarily in that order.

With so many variables, and new ones being added almost every season, what is it that brings audiences to it every time? Be it watching it live in stadiums or on the TV or even monitoring scores online … a pursuit of the IPL is relentless.

A question arises … why?

It can’t always be the ‘celebrity owner’ pull, as even discounting for an SRK for KKR or a Preity Zinta for KXIP; one cannot see fans of Kalanithi Maran for SRH or the GMR Group for DD! So do they follow their favourite players and switch loyalties to wherever they go? Or is city based support sacrosanct?

The loyalty question gains a significant importance with the amount of advertising money spent on ensuring the visibility of their brands. Some big brands are also associated with the IPL in the form of franchise sponsors.

IPLomania, a syndicated study conducted by Hansa Research reveals some interesting facets of such team loyalties and its impact on the recall value of the brands that sponsor the various teams. And for a study as old as the IPL, it reveals some interesting data …

·         Not all cities are ardent supporters of their respective teams

·         Team’s Performance plays a significant (if not crucial role) in enhancing loyalty

·         Marque players are a vital cog in any team’s fan following

·         Almost nothing is sacrosanct

And like the IPL itself, there are exceptions to all the rules!

For every fanatical supporter of CSK, there is a very fickle supporter of DD. But, even this might change in the next season. KXIP realized that when they found tremendous support in the latter stages of 2014, while they were consistently dominant, only for the support to fizzle out in the next edition when they bombed. So can DD count on an increased fan base during IPL-10?

Amongst the latest entrants, GL are increasing the fan base with their performances, while RPS is struggling even with a certain MS Dhoni at the helm, who enjoyed an almost cult status while CSK was not defunct.

CSK and MI have emerged as the most consistent in garnering loyalties, and not just from their respective cities. KKR and RCB have also retained their fan base, but other cities are yet to capture the collective city support. 

Team Support (%)
Team IPL – 1 IPL – 2 IPL – 3 IPL – 4 IPL – 5 IPL – 6 IPL – 7 IPL – 8 IPL – 9
CSK 20 23 23 24 26 26 28 30 -
MI 16 16 20 20 20 23 19 23 33
KKR 14 17 21 23 23 18 19 17 14
RCB 18 17 13 11 10 7 9 10 17
RR 10 8 7 6 7 10 7 8 -
DD 9 7 6 5 5 6 5 5 5
KXIP 10 6 6 6 7 7 10 5 13
SRH 3 6 4 1 1 2 3 2 4
PWI - - - 2 1 1 0 0 -
KTK - - - 2 - - - - -
GL - - - - - - - - 7
RPS - - - - - - - - 7

That these 4 teams have more or less kept a consistent pool of players, giving their supporters ample time to identify themselves with the team, provides for a potential formula to ensure a loyal fan base. With a consistent core, their performances have been consistent and that has lead to a consistent fan base.

Other teams are yet to settle their squad, but even there the marquee players play an important role in establishing a connection with the audience. Fans of SRH swear by their captain David Warner, whereas Glenn Maxwell rouses the fervour for fans of KXIP.

So the mantra for loyalty seems to be …

Bring in marquee players who are proven performers, persist with them to develop a strong team core, and finally (although it seems counterintuitive to the pace of a T20 league) give them time to establish a rapport with the audience.

And it’s time for a Strategic Time Out!

… and a word for (not from) the sponsors

The faith put in by the audiences in their teams is akin to that of the sponsors too, who have provided the financial backing to various franchises. Sponsor logos adorning the various team jerseys have become a defining part of the ‘look’ for each team. This ‘look’ is important to the sponsors in terms of the ability of their brand logo to cut through the clutter of the various logos pasted on the jerseys of each team.

IPLomania reveals a stark difference in the manner in which these sponsor brands are recalled by the audiences. Lets take an example of the ‘lead’ sponsors (whose logo appears on the jersey chest for each team).

On an average the ‘lead’ sponsor is mentioned by about 8% of the audiences, as being seen on a team jersey for any team. This shoots up to 27% when it comes to the top 2 teams CSK and KKR, and drops to 2% in case of KXIP and DD. In fact the brand recall for the CSK sponsor was as high as 42%.

Team loyalty also plays a huge role on the recall value for a brand. Teams that have managed to consistently garner a loyal fan base, also manage to repay their sponsors in terms of a better brand recall.

Lead Brand Recall (% recalling the brand on a team jersey)
Team Team Fan Others Impact of Loyalty
CSK 48.0 35.5 12.5
KKR 19.2 3.1 16.1
MI 3.6 1.0 2.6
RCB 4.0 0.9 3.1
RR 1.5 1.1 0.4
SRH 0.0 0.0 0.0
KXIP 0.9 0.4 0.5
DD 4.1 3.0 1.1

With a captive audience the IPL provides a tremendous opportunity for brands to be associated with the franchise, and more importantly recalled by their audience. Provided that there is a ‘strategy’ to the potentially profitable ‘time out’!

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