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Indian cricket fans have tribal passion akin to mature soccer markets: Study

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MUMBAI: The cricket fan base in India is very homogeneous, making it easier for advertisers to address a mass nationwide reach.

There is another deeper benefit for marketers taking to cricket, a research by Octagon Worldwide pointed out. Unlike the UK where Test and T20 cricket had inherent brand images that are diametrically opposed, in India the perceived image profile of T20 is very much aligned with Test cricket. This makes it easier for Indian sponsors to create an effective and efficient consumer-relevant pan-cricket activation plan.

Test cricket fans have a similar tribal passion that is found in mature European and South American football markets. The overall Test cricket fan profile proved to be very tribal, with a clearly defined hierarchy of factors.

Said Octagon Worldwide chief strategy officer Simon Wardle, "Team devotion is the primary factor behind the passions of India?s Test cricket fans. In fact, in many ways it is similar to the tribal Passion Drivers profiles that we have found for football in mature European and South American football markets. However, it was very different to the Passion Driver factors revealed by similar studies in England, South Africa and Australia where there was no dominant factor."

Cricket offers tremendous activation opportunities that Indian marketers can leverage upon. "We identified four different types of cricket fans and three of those four fan typologies had Team Devotion as the number one factor. This high indexing of the Team Devotion factor is good news for Indian marketers using test cricket as a marketing platform since it suggests activation strategies leveraging team assets and equities will resonate best with test cricket fans," said Simon Wardle.

Research among India?s avid cricket fans conducted recently by sports marketing firm Octagon Worldwide aims at increasing the understanding of the cricket fan base and offers positive, actionable insights for marketers using the sport as a platform to reach their consumers.

The latest findings result from Octagon?s Passion Drivers research initiative that enables sponsors to develop compelling and relevant sponsorship leveraging programmes based on a quantified understanding of why fans are so passionate about their favorite sports.

Wardle, the creator of Passion Drivers, said that the research examined both Test cricket and the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Cricket?s ability to attract corporate sponsors is not surprising. Said  , "By understanding what drives cricket fans? passions and how that, in turn, shapes their attachment and desire for products, corporate cricket sponsors can focus not just on generic fans, applying ???one-size-fits-all activations, but can focus on the factors that will truly motivate fan behaviour."

Octagon began its proprietary research into sports fans? passion seven years ago and has since studied some 75,000 avid fans of over 30 sports in 13 countries. The Team Devotion factor is one of 12 primary factors that drive fan passion for sports, and is defined as, fans? love for their team bordering on obsession and unquestioned loyalty.

Other factors include:

Active Appreciation: Fans? ability to call upon personal experience playing the game now or at some point in their lives.

All Consuming: Power of the sport to draw the fan in to the point where nothing else matters while the game is being played.

Gloating: Appeal of reveling in the agony of rival fans when their team loses.

Personal Indulgence: Sport is seen as a selfish reward—an excuse for "me time."

Player Affinity: Fans? interest in relating to sports stars as people. Player Excitement: Pure hero worship and admiration for their

athleticism and skills.

Love of the Game: Pure enjoyment of the sport and competition regardless of who is playing or who wins or loses.

Nostalgia: Combines the history of the sport and personal recollections of watching the sport growing up.

Sense of Belonging: Being part of a group of like-minded fans (of the same team).

TV Preference: How fans prefer to follow the sport. TV often provides a more satisfying experience than attending in person or participating.

Talk and Socialising: Sport as a topic of conversation and a means to build friendships.

The importance of these factors in terms of the degree to which they contribute to fan passion varies significantly from sport to sport and based on this study, Octagon has discovered that a sport?s fan base in a particular country can include fans that follow the sport for very different reasons.

"With this new insight, corporate sponsors of cricket in India can build unique, relevant compelling leveraging programs that connect to the passions of their customers," Wardle concluded.

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