Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is Deterring Customers a Good Strategy?

The thought of a business intentionally attempting to discourage customers from making purchases is barely fathomable. Going out of your way to scare off buyers seems like a recipe to doom the organization. Yet, that is exactly what one NHL franchise is doing this season. The Nashville Predators have come up with a creative plan to minimize an invasion by fans of division rival Chicago Blackhawks. The team's Keep Out the Red campaign is aimed at filling Bridgestone Arena the three times the teams meet this season... only without the red jerseys worn by Chicago fans traveling south for the games. Anyone wanting to buy a single-game ticket to any of the Blackhawks-Predators games in Nashville will be required to by a ticket to another game. The idea behind this ticket plan is to discourage Blackhawk fans from coming to Nashville to cheer on their team.

What's the Point?
So what are the Nashville Predators front office executives thinking when deciding to add a hurdle to buying tickets to the three Predators-Blackhawks games? Their desire is to build and preserve a home team advantage in Bridgestone Arena. For many years, fans of the Detroit Red Wings flocked to Nashville, creating pockets of red throughout the arena. Now, Detroit has moved to the Eastern Conference but Chicago's success in recent seasons has created another red headache for the Predators. Team President and Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry said of the plan “For Blackhawks games, we want to make sure that we preserve this building as much as we can for those who live in Smashville." The Predators will seek to make this happen by holding ticket pre-sales available only in specific zip codes in order to maximize sales in the local market.

Keeping out Red and Green
Reaction from Blackhawks fans has been a mixture of anger and disbelief. Fans who left comments on the blog post about the Keep out the Red campaign insist that it will not work, that they will get tickets and be there for those three games. Moreover, some fans raised an interesting point- when you keep out the red you are also keeping out the green, as in money that out-of-town visitors spend in hotels and restaurants. Even if the Predators succeed in selling out all three Blackhawks games it is likely that the customers buying some of the tickets normally bought by visiting team fans will not be spending as much locally. 

For those of you teaching or studying sports marketing, here is a question for you: Is it an appropriate strategy to attempt to deter fans of an opposing team from buying tickets and attending games? Or, in this case is "Predators pride" getting in the way and clouding good business judgment? - Preds Getting Creative to Keep the Red Out