Bleg: Shifting the demand curve for Phoenix games

So crowds for Phoenix games (the professional Wellington Football team) are struggling at the moment.  I was just wondering if you fine people had any suggestions – given that the majority of games are likely to be stuck being on Sunday’s, in what ways can the Phoenix shift the demand curve right cost effectively?

For me there are two main areas to look into:

  1. Integration with the community 1:  Letting kids in free (if they bring a paying adult) could be a relatively cheap way to get a greater amount of community integration, get the crowds up, and increase revenue.  The games are largely on a Sunday, so getting families involved is the way to go – this sort of idea needs a long term view, as the kids getting in for free will be paying in the future.
  2. Marketing:  People don’t know when the games are, and aren’t getting excited about the games.  Surely there are cheap forms of viral marketing that could help improve awareness and increase value?  To do this you need a clear idea of what the team “means” and what people “value” when going to the Phoenix – you aren’t just selling a game, you are selling more than that.
  3. Integration with the community 2:  Marketing it as part of the community.  It is a Wellington team, so we need to ask ourselves “what is Wellington”, what are some special parts of Wellington – and in what way can we integrate the Phoenix with that.  Wellington sees itself as “cool and edgy” – sort of like a mini-version of San Fransisco – so is there some way we can use a family friendly version of this concept to sell the team.
  4. Support Yellow Fever:  Surely Yellow Fever has some ideas regarding how to improve the environment within and prior to the game.  A supporters group needs support – it can’t be expected to build up everything by itself.  Now there is some of that going on for sure – but I’m sure there are ideas within Yellow Fever that could be more clearly articulated, and would cheaply add to the experience for potential game goers.

There is an underlying principal for all this to me – it isn’t as simple as some exogenous service that is watching a football game here, that won’t get much demand in Wellington.  You are selling an experience that depends on the size of the crowd coming in the first place – the people in the crowd value the community and the experience that is being provided by other people, and their actions, in the crowd.

Given that, you can only have larger crowds by having larger crowds – there is “multiple equilibrium”.  The only way to push ourselves into a state where more people come is to build up excitement and information outside of the games, and offer to work with Yellow Fever to create a dynamic environment inside the game.

  • Make soccer suck less?

    • Hey hey, football is awesome.

      Also, I’m aiming for effective, cost-effective, and realistic suggestions 😉

  • Rob Salmond

    Throw in some free halftime religious services!
    “Catholics to the North End, Protestants to the South End, atheists to the concourse for beer, other religions to the halfway lines to look awkward!”

    • I see what you are saying – but Wellington just doesn’t treat religion in that way.

      We need to find an issue that Wellingtonians treat like a religion … any thoughts?

  • Richard29

    Promote via Wellington and NZ tourism agencies as a key event as a critical part of the Wellington experience (possibly with tie in’s via AirNZ like Te Papa and the hotels do).
    The advantage of this is that you expand your potential customer pool to non Wellington residents with discretionary tourism dollars to spend. A bonus is that a number of major international tourist source countries for New Zealand are from football mad nations (as opposed to our rugby mad population).

    As the potential customers are one off visitors you can offer specials and discounts without concern about giving away discounts to price inelastic Wellington fans who would have been going to the game anyway. 

    One way of doing this would be upon presentation of your plane ticket (something like 15% discount for international visitors, 5% discount for domestic).

    You could also work with agencies to offer substantial package discounts to tourist groups – the Kiwi Experience crowd for example – you could give them 50% off for a group booking safe in the knowledge that you’ll make it all back in beer sales anyway 😛  


    Interestingly, Fred Woodcock doesn’t know how to convert Australian dollars to NZD when comparing ticket prices.

    • Indeed, which is why he is suggesting that a price of approx A$22.50 is more than A$25.

      I don’t agree that going on the road is the way to fix it at all.  I think that the team actually needs an identity to get a crowd – and having it traveling the country works against that.

      Having people know when the games are on, and feeling like the team is part of Wellington’s culture would actually help – why not look at EPL teams, and the sort of loyalty (and willingness to pay ridiculous ticket prices) that type of model engenders 😉

      • They’re probably helped slightly by the fact that football is that national sport in the UK.

        • Super relevant point – and it has significant history, and the quality of play is higher.

          However, I think it is relevant that the integration with the community, and the sense of rivalry and purpose that are created by supporting the team are issues that add value – and marketing it in this sense with a strong view of what “Wellington is” appears to be a good way of increasing demand IMO.

      • He has amended his story and put “A”s before the Aus prices and now says

        with both options relatively cheaper than Wellington given the earning power of the average Aussie

        • Interesting.  Shouldn’t he be comparing average wages in Wellington to average wages in the other specific centres then – given average wages in Wellington are significantly higher than the rest of the country the income argument isn’t quite as strong …

          Also, I thought the initial point that he was disputing was that the price in itself is lower – which it is 😉

        • It’s called making a mistake and then backtracking and making a slightly different argument.

          Even if he did a PPP conversion, which would still be subject to you Wellington specific critique, it probably wouldn’t show the Aus prices as being cheaper….

  • D.J.Taylor

    Sign players that the non football following masses have heard of to spark their interest and get them along to the stadium for a gander  – A big name signing like Christiano Ronaldo or Pele ought to do it 😉

    • Shortland Street actors IMO – we need an affordable option 😉

      • Tem Morrison would add some aggression to our midfield…

  • Rach

    Maybe they could utilise social media for more than just announcing their sponsorship partnership with TAB. Just sayin’.

    • True true.  What should they do with it though?

      • Rach

        Well I agree with Gael – becoming a Phoenix supporter is hard when you don’t know the games are on until the day… is there any advertising at all?

        After only going to three games ever, I have limited knowledge in what Phoenix supporters are after (in terms of marketing or advertising), but it seems the Yellow Fever Zone generates the most hype … why can’t the Phoenix use Facebook ‘Like’ pages, Twitter etc for fan photos/videos of all these regular fans and notifications that don’t have anything to do with sponsorship. Player bios? Upcoming games? The score of the last game?
        I just think that the hype begins and ends as soon as you enter and leave the stadium, when it doesn’t have to. It would be nice to have a bit more transparency perhaps – if I’m making sense.

        • Have you seen the Official Phoenix twitter and FB accounts? I think they do have some of the info you are talking about (they even do txt updates during games), but that could more just be an issue that there isn’t large public awareness about the social media accounts the club runs.

        • Rach

          I guess I didn’t make myself clear enough, but yes agnito … public awareness.  Obviously if a few of us don’t even know when the next game is, there needs to be some serious overhaul.

  • Gael

    Definitely marketing.

    I was going to become a Phoenix supporter this year, but I’ve already missed several games through not being aware they were on. Where are they advertising this stuff?

    Also, why are there games in January? I thought football was a winter sport.

    • Brandon

      Because the A League is a summer league. A bit hard for the Phoenix to say to the league “It’s fine for you to run your league from October to April, but we’re going to delay playing our games until the winter, because football is a winter sport… okay?”

  • Brandon

    They need to tell the population at large when the games are.
    It is not like Super Rugby where you can almost (but not quite) bet the game with be at 7.30pm. They are at all sorts of different times. If people don’t know what time (let alone what day) the game is on they are MUCh less likely to attend.

    • I was thinking about this, the Phoenix almost need a permanent billboard (digital or otherwise) in somehwere prominent like lambton quay that is updated all the time with “Next home game is on [date x] against [team y]

      • There used to be one, outside Terry’s HQ…

        • Rach

          So where is this billboard now? Good idea!

  • Harry

    There are games in January so as not to compete with the big winter sports in Oz: AFL and League. Also football is much better played on a dry surface.
    I live in Auckland and I know when all the games are on so it’s not hard at all if you are interested.
    As for Eric Crampton above: he does know that the Phoenix crowds are way ahead of the Lions and they regularly get more than the Hurricanes?
    Why not buy a few Wellingtonians for what they’re worth and sell them for what they think they’re worth? Huge money to be made there!
    Sunday’s??? Sundays………….

    • It is easy to find out when the games are on (I also live in AKL these days but was a season ticket holder for the first 3 years), the issue here is that the non-core fans aren’t the type of people who look at the phoenix fixture list regularily or have the draw on their fridge.

      The casual fans are the ones who will see a big banner for a game the coming weekend and make a spur of the moment decision to go.

    • Eric is just trolling, I don’t think he likes any sport. If he does, he’s Canadian so probably likes the worst spectator sport in the world – ice hockey! 😛

      • Seamus Hogan

        You are pretty much on the money about Eric, but completely wrong about ice hockey. Of the five sports I both watched on TV and been to a game live (cricket, baseball, rugby, American football and ice hockey), ice hockey is far and away the one that improves the most in going from screen to live. As a live sport, ice hockey (at least at NHL level) is an awesome experience.

        • I never troll. I sometimes poke, occasionally prod. And I’ve been known to kid and jest. Or tease. Or maybe provoke. But never to troll.

          Here’s a fun one: the one time hockey imitated soccer. It was brilliant. Because it was only one game, and in particular 3 minutes of one game.


        • I have good vision and appreciate a number of sports but find it incredibly hard to tell wtf is going on in a game of ice hockey. Perhaps live would be a different story and maybe one day I will find out. 

          I like that article – interesting tactic. Sounds like classic counter-attacking by sitting deep but also combined with aggressive team pressing in your own half.