Nets Ticket Deal Defies Marketing Principles

Below is an adaption of the previous post with edits and more structured arguments:

Nobody will ever accuse Nets CEO Brett Yormark of lacking creativity or innovation. However, the recently announced “Match-Up” 10-game ticket plan raised eyebrows and drew some criticism. The plan bundles arguably the ten biggest draws on the Nets schedule – Lakers, Celtics, Cavs twice, Magic, Spurs, Heat, among others – plus, fans receive five reversible jerseys with Nets player on one side and an opposing superstar on the other.

Team marketing veterans will question marketing other team’s players through a ticket promotion because it defies building brand loyalty and not using marquee games to increase sales for less attractive matchups, for instance forcing fans to buy Indiana and Sacramento tickets in order to see Lebron’s Cavs.

Before overtly criticizing the Nets on these points, teams must come to accept and act on the following facts: 1) success is the top driver of sustainable attendance, not ticket deals; 2) marketing’s top fear should be price cuts (applies to any business); 3) fans will buy jerseys of top players, often regardless of what team they root for. Now, look at New Jersey’s situation, who like many teams is rebuilding. Off two straight seasons out of the playoffs, it traded its marquee superstar in Vince Carter (though Devin Harris is a rising star), and have all but deserted its current fans with the planned move to Brooklyn. Further, they play across the river from Madison Square Garden, in the worst NBA arena. Few jobs could be tougher than selling Nets tickets, especially in the current economy.

Given these circumstances, why not market some of the teams and superstars the Nets play to get fans out to the arena. The annual list of top jersey sellers indicate fans value certain individuals, so the Nets are leveraging that to add value to potential customers. In fact, the team improved its own marketing by attaching a Nets jersey on the reverse side, rather than having fans go to the NBA Store and just buy the Kobe jersey with no Nets branding.

Packaging the ten best games into the same package is another way the Nets differentiated the offer. Teams have trained fans to expect the Cavs and Lakers games tied to Charlotte, Minnesota, Memphis, and the rest of the NBA Lottery. It does not excite fans, and they face a tough decision deciding whether to buy that package. The Nets eliminated any question about the value – every game in this deal has an attraction, so fans feel like they are getting a deal, rather than judging if one ticket to see Kobe is worth buying four games I do not care about. Ticket offers have become a dime a dozen, but this package rises above the clutter, and gives fans that “wow” moment. By combining the best teams with the most sought after jerseys, the Nets added value for customers and increased the fan’s willingness to pay for the offer. This approach should boost sales above what teams typically see for ticket deals.

Further, the Nets did not slash prices by bundling ten games they are selling quarter-season ticket packages at or near full price, a quick way to boost your full-season equivalents. Arguably, the team will net more revenue than had they separated these games, paired them with less attractive opponents that drive fans away, and been forced to cut prices later on.

Teams need to accept reality, as the Nets have, that fans want to see Kobe and Lebron and want to buy their jerseys, and some fans only want to see the NBA stars, not a watered down package of lottery teams. Rather than continue to ignore these facts, teams need to find ways to capitalize on it, earn brand favorability, maintain a sustainable business, and be ready to maximize profits when your team is on the short list of NBA elite. Each team holds a monopoly or duopoly in its market, so jointly promoting your team and an opponent will not lose that fan in the future. For all those who criticize the Nets, I will place my bets on their average ticket price and overall attendance for those ten games, the true measures of success.


One Response

  1. I like this a lot. Teams are in the business of selling entertainment, and top players, regardless of who they play for, are entertaining and attractive to fans. This jersey package makes sense for the Nets, and if it helps them sell tickets, I bet other teams will copy it.

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