Fan, or Super Consumer?

are you a fan?

Often industry misnomers are used to guise other definitions — such as the sports industry misconstruing the word fan and the phrase ‘super consumer’. Per WebMD ‘a fan is someone who is emotionally attached to a sports club, team, or group.’ [1] With industry giants in a perpetual bid for consumer interaction, having a consumer-product emotional attachment is every marketer’s pipe dream. And the sports industry is no different in that respect. The ‘insanely but divinely inspired’ consumers, such as myself, are the defacto misfortunes of well-crafted marketing schemes. For instance, I have an affinity for the Knicks team — a household brand that is intertwined with my upbringing, friendships, and culture. I certainly am a patron of the team’s events and was a purchaser of the merchandise. For instance, my (old) sneaker collection is rife with many Knicks / Spike Lee Creations. Therefore, I am the quintessential sports fan — at least per Mark Cuban’s dictum. [2]

Several caveats exist with the franchisees’ fanbase accounting for the lion’s share of the proceeds’ the team generates therein. For example, a consumer with an emotional attachment is most likely to purchase goods the industry offers if the franchise they prefer is ‘generating buzz’. The more salient way to drive franchise-brand recognition is for the franchised team to win in sporting tournaments. Emotions drive sales, and the franchisees realize growth when a fan’s team is successful. Conversely, revenues also decrease when the participants emotional drive to support the franchise dissipates.

For instance, the Knicks franchise — privy to P&L, revenues generated, and operational costs — has realized a decline in merchandise sales because the team performs poorly in the NBA league. [3] And thereby, marketers are differed to the conundrum: “how should we drive sales when our team sucks?”

Michael Jordan himself became a brand that the Bulls franchise sponsored. In addition, brands such as Nike (Jordan Apparel) and Coca-Cola had successfully capitalized on Michael Jordan’s ability to convert fans into consumers; and have subsequently established ubiquitous sub-brands beyond Jordan’s NBA tenure. This realized both the sponsor, Nike, and sponsoreed , high volumes of cash.

Similarly, when given a fledgling franchise, such as The Knicks, marketers too can find (or make!) their ‘Michael Jordan’ to make money.

[Reflection & Response] Remember back in the day, in elementary school, where some wore Abercrombie & Fitch, and others Ecco or Sean John with the rest just rockin’ good ol’ hand-me-downs. Similarly, to wearing sporting memorabilia, in all situations, we — the consumers — become the brand’s sponsor. Advertisers love free sponsorship, and we become their favorites by outfitting ourselves with the products they advertise. It makes a lot of sense for franchise marketers to target the female demographic, as sporting is a family thing, and — as anyone who’s married would understand — females drive household purchases. Therefore, if franchise outreach to the female demographic is successful, they too would realize an increase in net sales. The sports fan becomes the defacto team sponsor when wearing brand names, and female subsidize purchases would drive sales.

Personally, though a Knicks fan, habit, and life in California has led me to wearing (though designer, for ergonomic reasons) solid-colored shirts. No more brand advertisements for myself. If someone can read the brand I am wearing; then I refuse to wear it.


Adel Al-Aali


[1] WebMD: Is Being Diehard Sports Fan Good For Mental Health?

[3] Nets Leading Knicks in Jersey Merchandise Sales So Far This Season.



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