Cardinals have the most loyal fanbase in baseball

Brand Keys, a research consultancy firm, specializes in customer loyalty and what makes it. Hardball Talks, recently posted about the research the Brand Keys did into baseball teams and fan loyalty. The results found the St. Louis Cardinals nabbing the top spot on the ratings. The Philadelphia Phillies were second, the Boston Red Sox third. I was personally surprised that the Chicago Cubs didn’t have a spot in the top-5.

This study is likely to throw some fire on the public hate that’s recently come the Cardinals’ way thanks to their recent success and overuse of the buzz-term “The Cardinal Way.” And don’t forget the other one, the “Best fans in baseball.”

I have two questions about this study.

First, each team in the top-5 has existed for well over 100 years. On the other side of the coin, the bottom-5 were all founded in the last 52 years. A team’s history and tradition were factored into the study, but that means that recent expansion teams are automatically placed a disadvantage before you start measuring anything.

And second, one of the metrics that Brand Keys used in the study was a measure of “Pure Entertainment,” or basically, how well a team performs on the field. Passikoff mentions in the release that “Winning the series can add up to 20% to a team’s loyalty score.” I have a problem using that as a measuring stick. It’s easy to love a winner. If anything, team performance should have an inverse effect and ask the question, do your fans still love you when you aren’t winning? That’s the question they should be asking and is the root of any question of loyalty.

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  • Robert Passikoff

    Jon, Sorry you have a problem with the metrics, which — no matter how long the team has been about — correlates very highly with fan viewership and sales of licensed merchandise. “History & Tradition” is more than longevity. It’s the fact that the team has become part of the fans; and community rituals, institutions, and beliefs. It’s you sitting with your child on your lap with him wearing a cardinals baseball cap, the “history” being that it was your team and now you are making it part of another generation. Teams should be able to build that over a reasonable period of time. You see it happen when teams move from one city to another. And the comment in re the series was a tested explanation for when fans say, “but we won the series. Why aren’t we on the top of the list?” You don’t end up on the top of the list unless the team satisfies the execrations for all four of the loyalty drivers. Yes, you can survive on just History and Tradition if it’s high enough (Go, Cubs!), but you really need to understand and manage all four. Just saying.

    • JonDoble

      Thanks for reading Robert, and taking the time to reply. I love statistics and research like this, I find it very interesting. I understand the reasoning behind each point. At the basics, if you want to do a study like this you need to find things that you can measure quantitatively. “Because we felt like it,” really isn’t an acceptable answer when challenged for how you measured loyalty. Doesn’t really help you promote your company either. I think the study tells you better what teams are doing the best things to create and maintain fan loyalty rather than whose fans are actually the most loyal. And in that light, I don’t see a problem with the results. I’ll be honest that my perspective of what makes a loyal fan would be difficult to quantify, which would make for a very difficult research study.