Market Segmentation

Posted by   Mark Chrzanowski  
In order to best address the marketing needs for an organization, it is necessary to break large populations down into smaller identifiable groups with similar wants and needs.  The University of Michigan Athletics Department has an enormous fan base and therefore a ton of potential in regards to finding a target audience. During the following blog, I will attempt to do so by examining their customers’ identity, desires, behaviors, and methods of engagement.
The customers for the U of M Athletics Department vary greatly.  While the major concentration of them is within the state of Michigan, the school’s apparel can be found all over the nation, as well as the world.  People of all races and ethnicities are customers of the University of Michigan.  I would venture to say that most fans investing in season tickets or large amounts of other merchandise are male.  Generally speaking, males have a greater interest in indirect and direct sports consumption.  Attending games can be quite costly and much of the official apparel is also expensive, so a middle to high socioeconomic class is favored.  There are however “Walmart Wolverines” that have purchased their University of Michigan apparel through more affordable means, so this is also possible.
The benefits that U of M customers are seeking include those from the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy –social needs.  This means customers are seeking to have relationships with family, friends, and others through the consumption of Michigan Athletics.  There can also be a certain level of esteem needs because some people choose to gain personal value or satisfaction from their team’s success.  Following a team with the history of the University of Michigan football team can be positioned as a solution to meeting otherwise unfulfilled needs, which can motivate buying behavior.
Michigan fans have a high level of interest, even if they did not attend there for school.  There are definite psychographic variables in play here with the level of interest that some fans have.  Students in particular have “super fans” that dress up for all sorts of athletics competitions, no matter who they were matched up against.  There are also a number of older customers that devote so much of their energy to the interest in Michigan Athletics.  This results in a high usage rate segmentation.  Many consumers with high frequency, volume, and even in some cases, dollar amount of purchases
Medium of communication is another key idea to consider.  One option is to use the athletics website, and another is through social media– especially by advertising across sports.  There are an enormous amount of Michigan Football fans, so they could use that popularity to cross-promote sports that are less popular to the general public, especially other fall sports.  While fans are possibly in town for the weekend, they could be influenced through proper advertising to attend another sporting event.  In this case, the communication touch point would be something as simple as an in-game announcement or possibly emailing anyone that bought their tickets through the ticket office about the opportunity to catch a second competition while on campus.
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