May 22, 2024

Transforming Fan Engagement: Sports Brands’ Playbook for the Metaverse

The convergence of virtual reality and professional sports in the metaverse is revolutionizing fan experiences and opening up new avenues for brands to connect with consumers. According to Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, co-founder and executive director of the University of Oregon Sports Product Management program in Portland, the metaverse is poised to become a key marketing platform for brands, offering innovative ways to engage and communicate with fans.

In collaboration with marketing expert Raeesah Chohan from the University of Cape Town, Schmidt-Devlin delved into academic research and real-world examples to uncover the most compelling fan experiences offered by sports brands in the metaverse. Their insights, outlined in Marketing Letters, shed light on the evolving landscape of virtual engagement in the sports industry.

The metaverse, essentially a 3D digital realm where users have avatars and digital twins, is transforming the way fans interact with their favorite sports teams and athletes. While some immersive experiences require virtual reality headsets, the metaverse offers a diverse range of engagement opportunities for brands looking to connect with their audiences in innovative ways.

Schmidt-Devlin draws parallels between the rise of the metaverse and the transformative impact of the internet on marketing, highlighting the potential for brands to leverage this burgeoning platform to cultivate deeper connections with fans. She underscores the importance of embracing three key strategies to enhance fan engagement in the metaverse.

The first strategy involves offering exclusive experiences that enhance fans’ sense of belonging and identification with the brand. For instance, fans could have the opportunity to sit next to a virtual avatar of a sports icon like Michael Jordan or engage in training sessions with their favorite athletes, creating memorable and personalized interactions in the virtual realm.

The second strategy focuses on enabling fans to showcase their allegiance through virtual merchandise and branded apparel. Just as fans in the physical world proudly display team gear, avatar fans can express their support by purchasing and wearing digital collectibles within the metaverse, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among virtual fan communities.

Lastly, brands are encouraged to foster a sense of community and connectivity in the metaverse by offering immersive virtual experiences that allow fans to engage with one another, interact with the brand, and connect with athletes. For example, the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets offer fans a unique 360-degree viewing experience to watch live games together in the metaverse, providing a novel perspective that enhances the fan experience beyond traditional media channels.

As sports brands navigate the evolving landscape of the metaverse, these strategies offer a roadmap for engaging fans, fostering brand loyalty, and creating memorable interactions that transcend physical boundaries. By embracing the possibilities of virtual engagement, brands can tap into the transformative power of the metaverse to forge lasting connections with their audiences.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it