What other brand can do what Club Bruges is doing?
When I received a letter from Club Bruges to renew my season ticket, I noticed the price for my seat had gone up by 10%. I was startled to see that there was a price increase of 40% for some seats and that certain stands were only available to VIPs. The initial reaction from the fans indicates not everyone is happy about this.
The club claimed the price increase was simply an economic necessity. If Club Bruges wishes to â€˜remain’ a top club, the budget must go up. So who is footing the bill? The brand’s most loyal fans.
When I read this, I couldn’t help but wonder if other brands or companies could get away with such a strategy. The answer is short and simple: no!
Just consider the brand’s recent history: product quality has seriously deteriorated (Club Bruges has hardly won any prizes in the last five years), the level of service is not what it used to be (games keep being rescheduled to accommodate Belgacom TV, forcing 25,000 fans to change their plans) and in the meantime prices have gone through the roof. We all know what the effect would be if another company tried this. Funnily enough the number of loyal visitors for Club Bruges’ home games increased during this period.
What does that teach us? It means that Club Bruges has an ace up its sleeve that most other companies don’t have, viz. an army of unconditionally loyal fans that the brand can interact directly with every other week. Most companies envy Club Bruges this opportunity. Imagine how difficult it is for Coca-Cola to communicate directly with its 25,000 biggest fans. Most companies invest fortunes pampering their fans and trying to get to know them better.
Brands like Club Bruges are exceptional. In times of trouble, it is these people who have kept the brand alive and who defend it in their everyday environment, in the media and during games. Such an asset is invaluable to a company and, therefore, it should be treasured. I sincerely hope Club Bruges’ new management will also take this type of asset into account when evaluating the company’s performance.
Of course I understand that the budget needs to increase and that the options are limited without a larger stadium. Furthermore, I think the ‘new project’ sounds very professional and extremely promising. However, not involving the fans in this new project sounds to me like a missed opportunity. A tip for the next board meeting perhaps: put someone in charge of fan management. After all, this is also part of a modern company: affirming the ties with your core customers. Invite those customers into the boardroom: learn from them, involve them in the business process and enlist their help. Every day, brands are amazed at how far fans are willing to go for their favourite brand. Considering Club Bruges’ recent history, my favourite team is undoubtedly the perfect candidate to adopt this strategy.