How the Golden State Warriors drive their business with market research by Momentive

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How the Golden State Warriors drive their business with market research by Momentive

Learn how the Golden State Warriors use Momentive solutions to identify market opportunities, improve how they reach audiences, and build data-driven strategies.

Abigail Matsumoto

December 10, 2021 | 6 min read

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The Golden State Warriors know that champions should constantly innovate and push for personal bests. That doesn’t just apply to their on-the-court NBA achievements, but also to their position as a celebrated franchise and live entertainment company. Across their organization, the Warriors invest in understanding what resonates with fans—because those insights empower them to elevate their brand and their business. 

By using Momentive solutions to identify market opportunities, the Warriors are improving how they reach audiences, experimenting with innovative fan experiences, and relying on data-driven strategies to tackle challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is a stronger, more agile organization that’s always on the lookout for new ways to win more customers.  

“We spend a lot of time thinking about not just what the answers are, but what questions we should be asking within the marketplace,” said Executive Vice President of Ticket Sales and Services John Beaven. “You can become stagnant if you are just doing things the way you've historically done them. I think our fans expect us to listen and evolve.”

Making room for more fans

The Warriors aren’t just interested in connecting with the passionate Dub Nation fans who attend games at Chase Center, the 18,000-seat stadium that the organization owns and operates. They also want to hear from people who aren’t at the game—both casual fans and the Bay Area at large. Momentive gives the Warriors the chance to do just that, significantly expanding their market reach.  

Every year, the Warriors conduct a brand health survey to understand perceptions of the team, measure brand performance, and more. Through the course of this brand tracker, the organization can identify how to continuously upgrade the fan experience and appeal beyond their core customer base. 

“We really try to not make any sort of substantive decision without understanding the data behind the decision and the impact it'll have on the fan experience,” Beaven emphasized. “And it really does give us confidence as we make decisions, that we're doing it based on an aggregate of data that's supporting where we're going.”

That confidence leads to speedier decisions that are more powerful because they’re based on feedback from the people who matter most. Through the course of conducting market research on the in-game experience, the Warriors uncovered that people wanted to see more diverse halftime performances. So the organization introduced senior, junior, and co-ed dance teams to the lineup. These acts became wildly popular and were also more in tune with the Warriors’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

The Warriors’ habit of conducting frequent market research and pulse surveys also means that they’re able to evaluate key decisions throughout the year. For example, when the organization wanted to know how the Bay Area felt about the “Oakland Forever” tribute jerseys that the team wore during the 2020-21 NBA season, Senior Manager of Business Strategy and Analytics Charles Gao turned to Momentive.

“We were able to understand the impact of the jerseys, not only within the Warriors fan base, but within the broader Oakland community and the broader Bay Area community,” said Gao. “It was incredible to see how far that messaging reaches beyond the walls of Chase Center.”

That comprehensive feedback makes all the difference when the organization considers how to bring more fans into the fold. “We know that Warriors fans, people within our database, are going to think highly of us. It's why they buy a ticket,” said Gao. “But we also care about how the casual person perceives the Warriors, what they think about all of our marketing efforts, all of our branding efforts, what they think about the team—and Momentive gives us that platform to ask those questions.”

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Building a brand beyond basketball

The Golden State Warriors’ brand extends far beyond basketball. In addition to games, the Warriors host hundreds of other events a year, from rock concerts at Chase Center to online eSports events.

“There are a lot of things that we do that not all teams do,” said Gao. “And in order to enter these new arenas, it really helps to understand what the market is expecting, what the community that you're selling to is expecting, what they're looking for.”

The Warriors use market research to create unique live and digital experiences for affiliates like their eSports league the Golden Guardians. Momentive gives them visibility into the preferences of these fans, which can differ from traditional ticket buyers. For example, Gao said, the Golden Guardians shop replaced jerseys with hoodies based on feedback from gamers.

The Warriors also use Momentive to look at the potential of new digital experiences, like the launch of an interactive second-screen experience in the Warriors’ mobile app. 

“There's a lot of opportunity in the digital space,” said Beaven. “We’re really leaning in to understanding what's important to our fans and how we can enhance the digital experience to sit side by side with the physical experience.”

Market research helps the Warriors develop a strategic vision for all their ventures, regardless of whether it’s something they’ve done a million times or an entirely new avenue. The organization was the first professional sports team to launch a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) collection—and it continues to use Momentive to look for other opportunities to innovate.  

“It's not just about the fan experience, although that's very core to how we think about things, but understanding from the market landscape where we can fit in and how we can enhance what’s going on and compete for the discretionary dollar,” said Beaven. “Our fans have a lot of opportunities for both wallet share and mindshare. And if we are not constantly evaluating where and how we resonate most, we're going to lose out quickly.”

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Warriors use market research to develop their long-term business strategy, but it also helps them pivot quickly to respond to evolving situations like the coronavirus crisis.

When COVID hit the Bay Area in 2020, the Warriors were suddenly operating without a playbook. There was no precedent for handling a pandemic as a live entertainment company, so it wasn’t clear how or when to have fans return to in-person events. To get answers, the organization used Momentive to collect critical input from the Bay Area on a bimonthly basis.

The Warriors asked not only what would make people feel comfortable returning to Chase Center, but also how they felt about their overall pandemic safety. By zooming out to look at the market’s broader pandemic concerns, the Warriors got a better understanding of how people felt about reviving pre-pandemic experiences.

Based on the results of these surveys, the Warriors were able to narrow down over a hundred proposals for safety measures to a short list of a dozen action items that the community deemed essential. In April 2021, the Warriors welcomed fans back to Chase Center with measures that included contactless ticketing management and concession orders, face mask requirements, and proof of vaccination.

Beaven credits market research with helping the organization make a confident return to in-person events. “I don't think we would've been able to execute a successful return to games and return to fans, had we not asked questions and leveraged the data that we got back,” he said.

As the live entertainment industry evolves, the Warriors are a prime example of exactly how market insights can fuel exceptional experiences. From forging a future for live events to tracking fan expectations, the Warriors are charting a strategic path that embraces opportunity.  

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