At Twickenham Stadium, NFL Gets First Real Taste of England
The National Football League invaded London, England this past weekend and was welcomed with a sold out crowd! The October 21, 2016 Wall Street Journal article chronicles this international game played in the historic Twickenham rugby stadium. With NFL ratings up 80% among fans in London, they are definitely ready for their own franchise.
The NFL has regularly sold out 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium for two or three games a year since 2007. The same was expected for 82,000-seat Twickenham Stadium for the Giants-Rams game and that prediction did not fail. Thus, how difficult would it be to fill 61,000 seats eight times a season?
The knowledge of the foreign fan base is growing and the NFL is now continuing to test the possibility of expanding to the UK including extensive marketing research of the target market, cultural norms, logistical adjustments, and conversations with government entities and international advertisers.
With globalization the norm, this only makes sense. As we have seen, the rise of soccer’s (football) popularity in the US, a sport historically unpopular with US audiences, so have we seen the rise of American football around the world especially in the UK. This new market will be a fresh addition for the NFL who continues to implement envelope-pushing changes to grow the game. It’s only logical, then, that the NFL would continue to make international inroads, constantly making tweaks to its overseas endeavors with the potential of one day planting a franchise outside the U.S. borders.
The NFL can attribute its growing overseas popularity to technological advances and the increasing impact of the Internet, mobile phones, and other global media that essentially eliminates borders. Regardless of the time difference, fans around the world can now watch games and contribute to the conversation via the internet’s social media platforms.
For the marketers, the focus will be on international marketing rather than only domestic marketing. On the global marketing stage, the NFL must continue viewing the world, including their home market as one market. Market segmentation decisions can no longer be focused on national borders. The major change is the orientation towards world markets and the activities directed at supporting this view.
Additionally, it is imperative for marketers to be mindful of Self-reference Criterion (SRC) in the context of international marketing because it can influence an evaluation of the appropriateness of a domestically designed marketing mix for a foreign market. SRC is an unconscious reference to one’s own culture values, experiences, and knowledge as a basis for decisions. This will heavily affect the marketing mix and can be detrimental for the NFL’s marketing program if the cultural differences are not appreciated. It is imperative to be aware of the cultural differences and tailor the marketing mix based on this criteria.
From the looks of it, the NFL is on the right track. There are plenty more international games to come, including a November 21st game between Oakland and Houston in Mexico City, more games in the UK, and a game in Bejing in 2018.
Blog posted by: Ally M.