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Fan Engagement Agency Leadership Marketing

Fandom, on your own terms: How brands will spearhead immersion in 2024

By Sampson Yimer, SVP, Sports Sponsorship Consulting, NA

Momentum Worldwide

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January 25, 2024 | 6 min read

Fandom is evolving, says Momentum’s Sampson Yimer. Expect fan immersion to go stratospheric this year.

A crowd of fans at a concert

Fandom is evolving in 2024 - how can brands move with the times? / Craig Whitehead via Unsplash

In front of a 60-inch on your favorite recliner. Front row at a concert. Posting hot takes on social media. Watching post-game highlights or TikTok posts on mobile. In a massive stadium, among 70,000 of your closest friends.

This is the litany of ways to experience live events. Sports events especially have divaricated the pathways of experiencing fandom. 

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As an example, during the most recent College Football Playoff National Championship game, ESPN had ten different ways to consume the broadcast. Each of these appealed to different segments of fans, each of whom has a differentiated relationship to the sport. Crossover fandom from music to sports to fashion, and vice versa, has fundamentally altered consumers’ access to culture. Experiencing events in the most personally authentic way has become the expectation.

But, as with any transformation, therein lies opportunity. While personalization has become a core component of live experiences, the foundation will always be rooted in community – and the research supports it. 75% of global consumers feel a sense of belonging when connecting with like-minded fans, according to a 2023 proprietary Momentum study.

Brands have a role in cultivating that sense of community. Momentum research also states that 73% of consumers say that brands that create a community make them more excited to purchase from them. Whether it’s music, sports, gaming, fashion, or other culturally relevant platforms, shared communal experiences and connection are inextricably linked to the human condition. Given the seemingly infinite ways to experience each of those platforms, and the fragmentation that engenders, it’s critical to make those touchpoints both impactful and memorable.

Experience personalization and fandom

Enter experience personalization. A McKinsey 2021 study found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

What does that mean for savvy experiential marketers? It means finding an endemic and authentic way to play an accretive and active role in live events. This is where brands can play a role. From technological infrastructure to wayfinding, merchandising to digital companion experiences, brands can aid in experience personalization in a way that adds value to experience. In fact, it is what consumers expect.

The dream of total immersion

Imagine a perfectly tailored event experience. You arrive at the venue with secured parking or transportation offers, an automatic order of your favorite food and beverage, seamless connectivity, bespoke highlights or content delivered directly to your device, on-demand and responsive customer service and a personalized pop-up offer post-event. That data-driven experience reality can be made possible by leveraging unique partnerships to improve live experiences and cultivate a sense of customer loyalty, both to the event-holder and the brand.

For live event attendees, this is the reality they crave. 89% of respondents to a Momentum study stated that offering customized experience for more than one type of consumer is important for brand or company success. In the escalating battle for eyeballs and attention, connecting with fans or consumers where they are, at culturally impactful moments, in the way they expect and adding to their experience, is the way to find success and breakthrough.

Experience personalization has never been more important, and brands – especially technology brands – have never had a larger, more accretive role to play in augmenting the fan experience. Given the technological transformation of live events, initially driven by the pandemic but maintaining velocity through broader cultural evolution, we are entering the age of personalization and experience immersion – and brands will be leading the way.

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Fan Engagement Agency Leadership Marketing

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Momentum Worldwide

Momentum Worldwide has a proud history of creating industry-first experiences that authentically place brands in the cultural conversation. 1,000+ individuals across...

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