Mass Participation Sports Should use the Nectar Card Model to Increase Event Entries

A whopping 95% of consumers in the UK own at least one loyalty card. With so much focus on doing 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week I believe people should be rewarded for taking part in running, cycling and swimming events using the successful Nectar card model.

How would you feel about being rewarded for your run?

This would have two effects:

  1. Increased participation: Nectar found that after a card holder was first rewarded they increased their activity in all shops associated with the card by 10%. The feeling of being rewarded and the material benefits that come with a points scheme would drive participation.
  2. Improved customer understanding: With enough event organisers taking part in the scheme, a single view of each participant would be created rather than multiple disparate data sets currently owned and guarded by event organisers.

Using Data to Funnel Participation

Event organisers like IMG, Human Race and Limelight would be able to learn more about customer behaviour outside their own events, answering questions such as:

  • How do I compare when retaining customers or attracting new customers?
  • Is someone who took part in a Colour Run seeking new challenges?
  • Has a seemingly lapsed runner moved on to triathlon?

The data would show which participant has a greater propensity to enter a particular type of event. This in turn would lead to more targeted and effective marketing for the event organiser and ultimately a clear funnel of participation from first event through to regular exerciser.

Learning from the Theatre Industry

Purple Seven is a company that works with multiple theatres in the UK to create a holistic view of the habits of all theatre goers.

By collecting data from each ticket transaction (37m of them), Purple Seven can analyse anonymised data that allows theatres to improve their service for ticket buyers. 110 theatres provide this data to Purple Seven and benefit with higher ticket sales using the actionable insights created.

Rewarding All Activity

Wearable tech has grown rapidly in the last 3 years. Kantar Media predicts that there will be 13.1 million users of apps or wearable technology in the UK by 2015.

Apps and devices that measure exercise could become part of the scheme, increasing the frequency of reward and inspiring more participation and enjoyment in training. The more a participant’s exercise is tracked the better the rewards and experience will be.

Positive Message with Benefits for Sponsors

Rewarding people for being active and healthy is a more positive message than for their “loyalty” to a coffee chain. It presents numerous opportunities for brands to become part of that reward, creating healthier opportunities for event sponsors to engage with participants.

What better way for a brand to connect with someone than offering a free coffee to congratulate them for completing their recent cycling challenge.

Tackling the Competitive Events (this is the most interesting Nectar stat in my opinion!)

One perceived problem of this rewards scheme is that event organisers may feel they are handing over participants to their competitors. Sainsbury’s looked long and hard at this with their Nectar relationship, especially as other brands that formed part of Nectar sold items like wine and petrol. What they found was that weekly spending at Sainsbury’s was 40% greater amongst people collecting from Sainsbury’s and two other Nectar affiliates than if they just collected at Sainsbury’s. This then increased to 100% if the collector was using Nectar at 5 or 6 affiliates.

The message here is that the more events on the scheme, the greater the benefits for those events individually and overall.

Worth the Investment?

This would require significant investment in technology to work across all event and exercise systems but I believe there is a compelling argument for rewarding participants for exercise.


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