Unique Experiences Can Be Built For Universal Appeal
BY ADAM GROSSMAN
The NFL and Lowe’s announced a new partnership earlier this week that made the company the “Official Home Improvement Retail Sponsor” of the league. A key component of the new agreement is providing Lowe’s with the opportunity to “provide unique NFL experiences for customers and associates both during the regular season and off-season, and will become the presenting sponsor of Super Bowl Experience beginning at Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami.”
This focus on experiences may seem counterintuitive for Lowe’s particularly when it comes to an NFL partnership. The NFL’s primary appeal has been its ability to reach large audiences, with the NFL’s popularity appearing to increase this year. The Super Bowl specifically has been a large revenue generator because it provides companies with arguably the best opportunity to reach the largest audience during the sports year.
Creating unique experiences has typically not been a way to reach large audiences. For example, past Super Bowl Experiences have been in the specific city hosting the event and required tickets for entry. That does not seem to be the best way to reach Lowe’s many “typical do-it-yourself shoppers.”
Lowe’s understands this and believes that the NFL sponsorship is geared to specific audiences with experiences appearing to be a central role. In particular, Lowe’s is looking to target professional contractors because “pro customers, such as contractors, spend an average of five times as much as the typical do-it-yourself shopper.” In addition, Lowe’s emphasizes its “300,000 associates” as another key part of the NFL deal.
This makes the focus on experiences make more sense from a dollars and cents perspective. Creating unique opportunities through sports for customers that drive a larger portion of a company’s revenue is one of the best ways to generate direct ROI from a partnership. More specifically, these experiences create competitive differentiation to the point where a customer may make a decision based at least in part on having access to these opportunities.
In addition, having engaged employees that have direct interaction with customers has been shown to drive revenue growth. Providing employees with opportunities to have unique experiences with the sports they love typically increases their level of engagement and in ways that should directly translate to the customer interactions.
Reaching specific audiences that can maximize revenue growth appears to be a clear aim for Lowe’s with its NFL partnership. However, one less obvious outcome of unique experiences is their ability to reach large audiences. More specifically, these types of opportunities can drive earned media conversation in ways that more traditional sponsorship may not be able to achieve.
Citi’s Private Pass is a good example of this dynamic (full disclosure Citi is a B6A client but we currently do not evaluate Private Pass). Private Pass enables Citi’s card members to gain exclusive access to specific events including music, sports, dining, and theater. Events are limited to a certain number of “private passes” that can be accessed by card members.
Private Pass events, however, can be some of Citi’s most visible partnership activations. In particular, Private Pass events resonate with their card customers and can be (and often are) shared easily in earned media channels particularly in social media. This includes text, video and images from events where customers can showcase a clear benefit to having a Citi card to other current and potential customers. These types of organic demonstrations of competitive differentiation through unique experiences is one reason these partnerships should drive significant ROI for Citi.
Lowe’s and Citi illustrate the benefits of the B6A Partnership Scoreboard which aggregates and analyses data from multiple sources to provide our clients with a full cross-channel analysis of a partnership. Even on-site unique experiences can have universal impact in digital and social media channels and should be tracked to really understand the full ROI of a partnership.