Patriots Fans Prove to Be the Real Loyalty MVPs

The National Football League’s 2015 season kicks off this Thursday. And while many die-hards will be sporting their favorite jerseys this week, new data from Brand Keys suggests that some teams’ fans are more loyal than others.

Indeed, Super Bowl XLIX wasn’t the only victory the New England Patriots clenched this year. According to the research consultancy’s 2015 Sports Fan Loyalty Index, a national survey of self-classified fans, the Massachusetts-based team have the highest fan loyalty ranking—for the second year in a row—proving that not even a scandalous season ending can deflate its fans’ devotion.

The Green Bay Packers have the second-highest fan loyalty ranking (naturally), followed by the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts. 

As for teams with the lowest loyalty rankings, the Oakland Raiders came in dead last with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, and Cleveland Browns rounding out the bottom five. 

Top Five Teams   Bottom Five Teams
 1. New England Patriots  26. Cleveland Browns
 2. Green Bay Packers  27. Washington Redskins
 3. Seattle Seahawks  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
 4. Denver Broncos  29. Jacksonville Jaguars
 5. Indianapolis Colts  30.Oakland Raiders

“Loyalty is a leading indicator of behavior and profitability and…a key statistic professional sports teams should track as it tells us what fans are going to do,” Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, said in a statement regarding the Index.

As far as what drives fan loyalty, winning isn’t everything, said Passikoff, a Patriots fan. Every fan has a vision for his or her ideal team, he noted, and it’s how teams live up to these expectations that shape fans’ loyalty. “Everybody loves a winner,” he said, “but…there are other powerful and emotionally-based factors that have to be taken into account.”

Indeed, according to the study, history and tradition—such as being a part of fans’ rituals and beliefs—account for 30% of fan loyalty and engagement; fan bonding (e.g., having players who are respected and admired) accounts for 29%. Other emotionally charged factors include pure entertainment (how well the team plays), which accounts for 21% of fan loyalty, and authenticity—how they mesh as a team—which accounts for 20%.

“All teams show up intending to win,” Passikoff said. “But…[to retain loyal fans] you have to know what the fans expect—beyond a winning season.”

As for what marketers from other industries can learn from these findings, Passikoff tells Direct Marketing News that by understanding customers’ loyalty drivers, marketers can better determine how well they’re meeting their fans’ expectations and what areas need reinforcement. 

However, like Tom Brady, I’d like to appeal this ruling of which team has the most-loyal fans. As I have unbiasedly said, on several occasions, I believe that the Packers have the most loyal fans in the nation. I mean, how many fans would wear chunks of cheddar on their head in sub-zero temperatures? Plus, the team’s fan bonding is exceptional. How many teams have quarterbacks that are Jeopardy champions—proving that they have beauty, brains, and brawn (not to mention an incredible sense of humor)?

I rest my case. 

Photo Source: Bernard Gagnon

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