We’re thrilled to announce that Casual Fans will be working with the US Curling Association, the official governing body of curling in the United States, to help position US Curling for growth in the pre-Olympics period.

On February 9th, the Winter Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea—presenting a tremendous opportunity for the sport of curling. Already one of the most highly-viewed sports during the Olympics, and the most Googled sport in 2010, curling attracts a broad casual fanbase. Using Casual Fans modeling, we’ll engage in a concerted set of efforts to help Team USA move their casual fans down the FanScale.

Key projects will include marketing efforts to:

  • Build brand interest for the sport of curling – and Team USA
  • Change perceptions and educated fans about curling
  • Mobilize fans to tune-in for broadcasts and join social fan community activities
  • Diversify efforts to sell products (tickets, merchandise, etc) as well as help attract additional sponsorship and support for USA Curling.
  • Break into new or previously under-engaged audience segments.

Fan identification & engagement

There are roughly 220 million self-identified sports fans in the United States (and billions worldwide), but only a fraction of them are die-hard fans — and they are spread across all different sports. Teams and leagues, sports media and marketers have an opportunity to engage more casual fans, to build their base, and when they do, it will drive new revenue and other short-term and long-term benefits. The key is to understand what motivates an individual fan to engage with a sport, to purchase a ticket, and similar, and then to create the products, marketing and other opportunities for engagement they demand.

For USA Curling, a community of die-hard fans already exists – the sport has been growing, curling clubs operate in 46+ states (including Hawaii). Still, there are likely millions of more ‘casual’ fans who appreciate different aspects of the sport and are looking for an appropriate way to connect with the sport as a fan. The current marketing done by the sports world, including USA Curling, the US Olympic Team, media partners like NBC Sports and corporate sponsors and partners – does not adequately consider the casual fan.

USA Curling needs to better understand who these casual fans are, what they expect, and to adapt their marketing and engagement accordingly. They need to put that intelligence to use across every aspect of what they do. With the Winter Olympics approaching the opportunity couldn’t be greater.

Casual has studied/analyzed casual fans at a broad level for years, and are working now to develop individual level predictive modeling for casual fans across North America – which will be used to help USA Curling further build its audience.

Key project areas

Analysis and Framing
We’ll work with USA Curling to develop a detailed positioning on how to engage new fans, their social behaviors and their connection to sports (and other similar things). It starts with an analysis of existing data and audience, mixed with some insights that we have collected and developed previously. This initial step to understand the current approach used by a specific organization, assess the broader potential new opportunities – including products, specific audience segments, is critical to the successful development of future models.

Model and Product Development
After the initial analysis is complete, we will proceed with development of new predictive models based in a segmentation analysis that identifies the demographics and psychographics of more than 300 million Americans, and a national survey that included awareness, support and knowledge questions, the support model rank orders targets to separate and understand the breadth and nature of support. These models working in concert – support, activation and persuasion – offer an unprecedented in-depth understanding of hundreds of millions of Americans who are primed for behavior shift.

Guidance and Activation
In the months leading up to the Winter Olympics, Casual will help USA Curling to identify likely fans across the country and shape efforts to connect with those fans in the most meaningful ways. This includes crafting messaging, products, sponsor opportunities, media plans and more. During the Olympics and in the months that follow, Casual will help USA Curling, and its partners, to maximize the exposure they receive to recruit additional support and build a foundation for sustainable growth and enthusiasm for curling in the United States.