Growing the Milwaukee Brewers’ Latino Fanbase

30 August 2018
By: Ruthie Jenkins (Sr. Strategic Planner)

The Challenge

Milwaukee is a unique place with lots of summer activities, beer, brats, and of course, baseball! Home of the Brewers, the city has been united around the sport as early as the 1880s. Despite their market being one of the smallest in the league in terms of population, the Brewers are one of the highest attended teams in the MLB. In 2016, the Brewers had 38% of the entire market attending games, ranking second in the entire league2.

But as the team continues to grow and the existing fan population ages, they recognize the importance of diversifying their fanbase and developing a more inclusive audience. Although the Hispanic population in Milwaukee has grown nearly 300% since 19901, Latinos only represent a single digit portion of total attendees2. With a solid number of Latino players on their team and a passion for welcoming everyone into their “Crew,” the Brewers approached PM3 to help tackle this challenge.

 

Background: MLB

This challenge is also present from the viewpoint of the league as a whole. From a national perspective, nearly 17 millionHispanics had some level of interest in baseball (watched games, played the sport, purchased apparel, etc.), yet only a small percentage of them described themselves as “very interested,” or avid fans. But how can this be, when Latinos have historically made a huge impact on the sport? In fact, 30% of the MLB’s players are Latino4  (compared to 2% of NBA players and .8% of NFL players)!

In 2016, the MLB decided to activate Latino ownership of the sport and launched the Ponle Acento (“Put an Accent on it”) campaign. Throughout this campaign, players and fans were encouraged to literally put their accent on their jerseys to instill cultural pride, while it simultaneously celebrated the figurative mark Latinos have placed on the game.

Milwaukee case study pm3 agency

Brewers: Facts & Insights

Although this campaign was a great start and reached the entire network, the Brewers were still in need of something uniquely tied to the local Latino population, who are a bit different from the average U.S. Hispanic both demographically and psychologically. Around 90%of Milwaukee’s Latino population are either bilingual or English preferred. Similarly, nearly 90% are U.S. born—and about 1/3 of those who are foreignborn have been in the U.S. for over 18 years2. Even more revealing, 62% of Latinos in the city are actually Milwaukee natives.2

After getting a broad picture of the Milwaukee Latino, it was time to dig a bit deeper. Similar to the national story with the MLB, we discovered that there was a rather large potential for Latino baseball fans in Milwaukee. Despite the low attendance, we found that nearly 60% of the Latino population in Milwaukee had some level of interest in the sport. Furthermore, they were more likely than the national Hispanic base to have an interest in baseball and were even more likely to be avid fans of the Brewers when compared to non-Hispanics.


1 Geoscape Intelligence System
2 Brewers Internal Data
3 Racial and Gender Report Card

But who were these potential Latino fans, and why weren’t they attending the games?

Using a combination of Simmons and internal Brewers data, we discovered four personality themes within this potential fanbase when compared to all non-Latino Milwaukee fans. First and foremost, these individuals are all about experience & fun—they love humor, trying new things, absorbing unique experiences, and putting themselves in the middle of the action. Second, they are socially influential—they speak their mind, influence their peers, enjoy teamwork, and value respect. Third, this fanbase is ambitious and eager—they are entrepreneurial, believe in the efficacy of hard work, look at the glass half-full, and are confident. Lastly, given certain demographic factors (lower income, bigger households, etc.), these individuals are also protective of their family and personal matters—they seek job security and are careful with their personal information and how they spend their money.

While learning about this consumer, the Brewers also shared their custom segmentation of fans, centered around mindset. It turned out that this Latino consumer actually shared some personality traits with one existing Brewers consumer segment that was ripe for potential. This particular consumer is driven by experience, fun, liveliness, and the social aspect of the game.

Essentially, we can develop a genuine and enduring relationship by welcoming them to the “Brew Crew.”

Brewers Latino Strategy

Our role became clear. We needed to ignite our fanbase into a contagious fandom.

Although we can’t change these consumers’ hard circumstances, we can speak to them directly and in culturally relevant ways while disrupting their misconception about price and convenience. We can also show them that Miller Park is the ultimate destination for highly passionate people. Essentially, we can develop a genuine and enduring relationship by welcoming them to the “Brew Crew.”

In order to accomplish this role, we recommended taking a phased approach.

 

Phase 1:
Ignite our fanbase… (by creating hype around the Brewers)

In this phase, tailored messaging and merchandise to Milwaukee Latinos would focus on high energy action, the grandiose atmosphere of attending games, and the holistic and varied experiences offered at Miller Park. To reach this consumer, the media buy also needed to be tailored with a higher digital focus as well as advertising in places that could compete with games (ex: movie theaters). Ultimately, utilizing the Latino players to reach out to the community and create cultural bonds with the fanbase would be the most essential part of this phase.

 

Phase 2:
…into a contagious fandom (by extending the invite to Latinos who aren’t fans, yet!)

This phase is all about turning this fanbase into a cycle of influence. It’s crucial to extend the invite to new Latino fans by using a strategy innate to U.S. Hispanics, and especially Latinos in Milwaukee: word of mouth. After all, their social influence is a core part of who they are. In this phase, fans would be mobilized to invite new people through incentives such as group and ticket packs. The full experience would be promoted—it’s not just about the sport. Brewers games are a social outlet and Miller Park offers varied types of entertainment. Myths about price, convenience, and accessibility can also be dispelled in this phase. The most important part is that this phase should be about getting into Latino neighborhoods, getting involved in the community, and showing them that the Brewers are invested in doing good for Milwaukee Latinos.

Milwaukee case study pm3 agency

To Latinos in Milwaukee, the Brewers are “Mi Crew.”

Brewers baseball team case study

What this Means for Marketers

Culture and Mindset Transcend Language

Language is a tactic, not a strategy. But for marketers, it can be easy, sometimes, to tie language so close to the overall direction. After all, the U.S. Hispanic market is very diverse and includes many different backgrounds, countries of origins, customs, and dialects. Language is definitely one thing that unites everyone together.

However, for a market like Milwaukee, language is more of a cultural symbol than a means of communication. Simply making the effort to reach out to Hispanics, language aside, is vital. According to a recent Focus Latino study, nearly 60% of Hispanic consumers experience a big, positive impact when they notice brands reaching out to “people like me5.” That’s why it’s crucial to really understand who the consumer is on the inside, what drives them, and what influences behavior. By building a strategy based on passionate personality, we were able to make a connection with these consumers on a deeper level and link the Brewers to it. These are the things that truly help build relationships and loyalty with the Hispanic market.

Milwaukee case study pm3 agency

Advertising to Latinos is Full of Blends and Overlaps

It’s widely accepted that segmentation should be built from mindset, not demographic factors. Therefore, it is not necessary to create an entirely new segment for our Latino fanbase exclusively focused on ethnicity. However, it is still important to consider the cultural and demographic factors that influence individuals in different ways… and it’s imperative to speak to them directly!

Similar to some of their existing consumer segments, the end result, or mindset, may be similar, but the process that leads Latinos and non-Latinos there is wildly different and nuanced. Just because two consumers have different backgrounds doesn’t mean your approach has to be completely separate, but at the same time, just because consumers share common traits doesn’t mean they should be lumped in with General Market strategies. Time and time again, Latinos have shown loyalty to brands who care enough to speak to them.


5 Focus Latino Wave 3: Advertising & Social Media 2017

In summary

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits all approach to the Hispanic market. There can be nuances within a local community, diversity within the Hispanic segment, and even common ground that links them to other consumers. But, by simply speaking to them directly, brands can create a genuine connection over time… and Latinos are eager to be loyal to brands who do.

¡Gracias!

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