The most compelling facet of last month’s Green Sports Alliance Summit in Santa Clara was the presentation of an illuminating research study on the attitudes of sports fans towards the environment/environmentally-related issues. The study’s key findings were presented by Steve Seiferheld of Haddonfield, NJ-based Turnkey Intelligence, the Sports and Entertainment industry’s leading business intelligence firm. Clients include the major sports leagues, teams, sports media and Fortune 500 firms involved in sports sponsorship and/or advertising. GSB sat down recently with Mr. Seiferheld to dig deeper into the study.
GreenSportsBlog: Turnkey Intelligence certainly has a leadership role in sports-related market research. Is this the first time you’ve ever been tasked with a sustainability-related study?
Steve Seiferheld: We’ve never been asked to conduct an environmentally related-study before during my five-year tenure, so, for me, it was an intriguing topic.
GSB: Did you have any preconceived notions about the Green-Sports intersection?
SS: At the beginning, we thought it meant basic things like recycling at sports events, alternative energy generation on site, things like that. But, after conducting the study and especially attending the Summit in Santa Clara, I saw that the topic was much richer, and that the power of Green-Sports was much greater than we had originally thought. A bunch of companies that supply the sports industry showed off amazing products and technologies like Owareco, which has a product that efficiently separates solid and liquid food waste at sporting events, reusing the liquid and turning the solid waste into compost. The Summit was truly eye-opening and went way beyond our expectations.
GSB: I certainly learned a lot–especially at the presentation of Turnkey’s research on sports fans (I was hoping the fan would be a major focus of the Summit and I was not disappointed) and the environment. How was the study set up?
SS: It was an online survey of 1,000 people that were all at least casual sports fans and sports events attendees–they had to have attended at least 2 sports events in the past year. Everything else mirrored the census: gender, geography, income, etc. So it was a representative, projectable sample.
GSB: I found the presentation of the key findings on the spending habits of green sports fans and also the intersection of women sports fans and the environment to be very powerful. Why do think that was the case?
SS: It was powerful because it was realistic yet eye-opening at the same time. We learned that sports fans care disproportionately about the environment. A 2013 Harris study of Americans showed that 62% care about the environment. Our study of sports fans showed that 81% care about the environment. Other similar questions showed the same disproportionality. So sports fans care about the environment? Not surprising. That it’s disproportionate to the general population? Eye-opening.
Steve Seiferheld of Turnkey Intelligence presented results of a quantitative study of the intersection of Green and Sports at last month’s Green Sports Alliance Summit. (Photo Credit: Steve Seiferheld)
GSB: How does this “caring about the environment” translate into fans’ attitudes towards teams and leagues on green issues?
SS: The study showed that sports fans expect teams to be green. 73% expect teams to separate trash and recycle. 68% expect them to donate unused food concessions. 59% want teams to use reusable cups, and so on down to 38% expect teams to play in LEED Certified facilities. These are strong numbers.
GSB: What about women sports fans and the environment?
SS: The study is very clear: Environmental activities give sports teams a great avenue with which to engage female sports fans.
GSB: How do we know this?
SS: Here’s how: 67% of surveyed women sports fans describe themselves as “avid”, but 87% are concerned about the environment. While 82% of our surveyed men were self-described as avid, only 75% are concerned about the environment. Among all women sports fans, 51% would participate in a league- or team-run event that benefits the environment as compared to 39% of male fans.
GSB: So, if you were a team or a league, what would you do as it relates to connecting with women fans?
SS: I don’t think teams have to shout “WE’RE GREEN!!” to women. Women are smart–they’ll get it without being hit over the head with it. Instead, they should go with community engagement programs that are green–i.e. planting trees, greening schools, etc.–and theoretically these programs will have a natural appeal for the female fan base.
GSB: What other major insights did the study reveal?
SS: Here’s a big one: That more environmentally conscious fans spend more on tickets by about 20%. Fans who self-identify as more green spend, on average, $403 on tickets per year as compared to $340/year for their less green counterparts.
GSB: Could there be other factors at play that explain this difference?
SS: We thought the same and looked at the data a bunch of different ways. There was no meaningful difference in terms of amount spent on tickets when you checked for fan “avidity”, income, geography. The difference showed up only in relative greenness—and that means teams risk alienating their better spending fans by NOT utilizing sustainable, green technologies and approaches.
GSB: That is powerful indeed! Will there be a follow up study next year or the year after? It would be interesting to see if trends change.
SS: We really enjoyed working with the Alliance and would love to do more. And, although nothing is set yet for 2015, we hope to have conversations soon that will get things rolling.
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