Baltimore Orioles: How to attract younger fans?

With today being January 2nd, the Baltimore Orioles will begin their march back towards normalcy. I’ve always seen the end of the holiday season as January 6th, but needless to say the portion of the season whereby people are off is basically done. That means it’s time to get to work.

This is a big month for the Orioles, as it culminates with Orioles’ FanFest, one of Birdland’s most celebrated annual events. The O’s are going to want to have more of a vision and a plan carved out by the end of the month if that’s going to be a well-attended event. The same is true of games once the season gets closer.

I’ve read a lot of late about how various teams in various sports and cities are having to look outside the box to draw fans to games. Mainly, to draw younger fans. I’m not talking about kids, but more so perhaps recent college graduates. Your 22-30 age bracket.

According to most “experts,” this age group rejects conventional marketing ploys. I’m not exactly sure what that means; does it mean that they aren’t swayed by seeing an advertisement paid for by the team on television or hearing it on the radio? But…how is that even possible? Does this age group not watch television?

They do…they just don’t do it as you and I are used to consuming these media. But many people are now moving away from cable and satellite dishes, and getting their television service through other means, such as AT&T. Many kids don’t listen to the radio like you and I do, as they’re listening to their favorite podcasts.

Keep in mind that this is the generation that grew up playing video games as opposed to playing outside. So where as I played in the backyard and pretended to be Cal or Eddie as a child, people ten years younger than I were busy playing video games. Recreational play wasn’t necessarily tied to sports for them as it was for people older than them.

The Orioles’ program instituted last year of allowing parents to bring two kids to the games for free is a great example of outside-the-box marketing. Because this generation is also shaping up to be incredibly civically-minded. They see everything as a “product” into which they’re buying. And if part of the return on their investment is that their kids get a free experience, they’re on board with that.

I wish it were as easy as throwing together a few discount days, offering free food, or even free tickets. That’s how it used to be, and that’s what I’m quite frankly used to. But in some instances that’s actually backfiring. Some younger fans actually take that as an insult because they feel like the team is trying to in essence buy them.

Whether we like it or not, the Orioles have to pay attention to these trends – whatever they are. And the fact that they share a region with another big league team only makes it tougher. Not only that, but there’s also competition from several minor league teams (most of which are Oriole farm teams), AND other sports. The mid-Atlantic region is home to franchises literally in every professional sport. And if that’s not enough, there are other entertainment venues that compete as well.

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