‘Take me out to the (restaurant at) the ball game’
With baseball season now in full swing, we begin another year of trips to the ballpark with the family and friends where memories are made. America’s favorite pastime has the innate ability, upon seeing that beautiful diamond in a historic ballpark like Fenway or Wrigley, to transport us back decades in time to when your parents and grandparents were sitting in those exact same seats. The sight of those white bases glowing in the summer sun and the perfectly manicured grass that you wish your lawn looked like, stretches on seemingly forever. Plus, who doesn’t like food and beer delivered directly to your seat? With classics like hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, and beer, you can’t get much more American than that! But as many of these ballparks have evolved, so has the service and food and beverage selection from the old day. While the basics are still out there, more options such as selections of fresh seafood, gourmet steak sandwiches, handcrafted fresh fish tacos from all types of in-stadium restaurants are gaining in popularity and offering something for everyone.
Let’s take a closer look at the gameday experience and examine how ballparks are using technology to give customers the ultimate food and dining experience. Did you know that nearly 100% of Major League Baseball stadiums in the US use beacon technology during live games to promote merchandise and food? Many retail brands often sponsor sports teams and take advantage of this kind of technology to sell out merchandise. Major beverage brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, use context-aware messages at sports events to promote the consumption of their drinks. The quick-service restaurant industry is ideal for these marketing methods as they look to engage a customer who when they walk into their location, won’t be browsing like in a pro shop or store, but will be buying some type of food. Hence why the connection is so crucial. Even offering a coupon for something free is vital as that incentivizes them to visit the restaurant which more times than not, will result in them buying more than what their coupon offers them.
The ballpark today is a destination outside the park itself with stores and many QSR and Fast Casual restaurant brands looking to get their share of consumers before and after the game. The sport of baseball has a lot of advantages too compared with the other major professional American sports. The majority of the season takes place during the summer, when the weather is nicer and more people are on vacation, and also has the longest season and most games by far. These contextual aspects give businesses around the ballparks a distinct advantage to boost their sales even more if they just incorporate a few mobile marketing strategies. What’s also happened is that this environment has become hyper-competitive and consumers are much savvier as they look to find not only the type of food they want but where they can find a seat in a hurry. Having a proximity marketing strategy that is optimized around these environments and circumstances is key. For example, if you are a QSR outside the park you run promotions from 3:00-7:00 PM before the game begins, and then run them again starting around the 7th or 8th inning as people start to leave the park. These marketing tactics can increase the foot traffic and consequently the sales of your restaurant exponentially, as nearly every fan going to and from the game will be on their smartphone quite a bit throughout the day/evening.
Finally, the popularity of mobile proximity marketing and geofences among sports fans provides a gateway for influencing shopper behavior and sales, before, during, and after sporting events. With fast-casual restaurants both in and around the stadium, as well as concession stands, this technology goes a step further as the restaurants compete for those precious few moments to dazzle the customer and entice them to purchase food from their location. Teaming up with sports teams and leveraging location-based technologies, brands and brick-and-mortar retailers can enhance customer loyalty, gather data about their customers, and provide an entry point for in-store shoppers to become more digitally engaged.
If you would like to learn more about some of the capabilities, like geofencing, that ShopAdvisor can provide to help power successful drive-to-store proximity marketing campaigns, click here to contact us.