Mobile Ethnography And The NBA All-Star Weekend Part 1
The 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto marked the first time an NBA All-Star game had ever been played outside of the United States. It was a major event, promising to showcase the city on a world stage – and the excitement leading up to the weekend was palpable.
For Toronto residents, it was a chance to mix and mingle with some of the biggest stars in the world. For the Toronto Raptors organization, it was a chance to lure potential future free agent prospects. But, for Environics Research, it was a chance to partner with our friends at the Humber RAPP program and test out in-the-moment data collection using a new mobile research technology.
For this exercise, we put an application called Bounty, by Twentify, to the test. Bounty recruits audiences via social media and asks them to complete simple tasks in their area using a smartphone app. The app works with marketers to help them crowdsource and engage audiences, and can be used to collect in-the-moment observations that can help researchers better understand a target audience. Such tasks could involve mystery shopping or customer experience surveys, but we’ve found the most powerful tasks are those that give us an intimate understanding of how an audience experiences an activity or event. In our recent study, we asked Torontonians to chronicle their interest and participation in the NBA All-Star Weekend to get a sense of how connected they were to the event and identify future sponsorship opportunities.
By piloting this new technology, we hoped to answer the following two questions:
- What kind of in-the-moment observations can we leverage from mobile ethnography?
- What types of audiences are best suited for this type of methodology?
In answering our first question, we looked to see how well the Bounty app could truly immerse us in an audience experience. To do this, we used the data we collected to show how three individuals experienced the NBA All-Star game.
Note: Some names and details have been changed to protect the identities of our participants.
Our first fan experience came from Jason, a proud Torontonian living in North York around the Finch and Yonge area. His favourite players are Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and he was excited that his city was hosting the first ever All-Star game outside the United States. By cross-referencing Jason’s home postal code with our sister company, Environics Analytics’ proprietary database, PRIZM5, we can see that Jason is likely a member of the Asian New Wave segment, characterized by younger, lower-middle income singles and families living in an area that is dominated by a wave of Asian immigrants. Many Asian New Wavers are foreign-born, and most have come to Canada during the 1990s or more recently.
Although Jason had originally planned to have a quiet night in and watch the game at home, the excitement got the best of him and he decided instead to drive up to his friend’s house in Vaughan to enjoy the game.
We know that Dan was excited leading up to the All-Star Weekend, telling us “I love basketball and have played all my life! I’m excited to see the world’s best put on a show in Toronto.” His favourite player is Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, and he initially planned to wear his Raptors jersey while he watched the game with some family and friends at a bar. In the end, though, Dan’s plans fell through and he decided to watch the game at home on his flat screen TV, further affirming his PRIZM5 segment’s affinity toward electronics.
Fan Experience 3: Sarah’s Night Out
Based on her home postal code, Sarah is likely a Newcomer Rising, a group characterized by younger, recent immigrants, with about 60% being foreign-born. Although this group is mostly defined by lower income levels from entry-level jobs, they still spend freely on leisure–intensive lifestyles, which we see was certainly the case for Sarah.
Through the app’s geo-location feature, we know that Sarah actually went away for the All-Star Weekend, taking the hour and a half drive down to Niagara Falls and staying at a hotel in the entertainment district. Despite enjoying her weekend getaway, Sarah and her partner still managed to take in the game from The Keg Steakhouse near their hotel over a plate of nachos with some Pepsi and wine.
With the level of detail our clients are often looking for in terms of customer experiences or journeys, in-the moment observations are more and more valuable
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