The current paper examines the marketing situation of the Australian Wallabies rugby union team (which is a product of the Australian Rugby Union, the ARU), and provides reflection about its marketing situation on the basis of the research that was conducted earlier. The previously identified issues which are faced by the ARU are briefly described; the markets that should be targeted in a future marketing campaign of the ARU are discussed; a possible position of the Wallabies’ product is considered; and, finally, the final recommendations about the organisation’s marketing mix are given.
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The Issues Identified
The previous analysis identified a number of issues that interfere with the goals of the Wallabies and prevent it from achieving success in the market. These issues include:
- a decline in the attendance of the matches, as well as in the number of people watching the matches remotely; the ARU were not able to show a particular sustainable advantage over the competitors (Solomon, Hughes, Chitty, Marshall, & Stuart, 2013);
- poor market development: low coverage of the domestic market (rugby is mainly concentrated only in Queensland and New South Wales); the association of game only with the elite and high-income public; and non-participation in the international market (Logan, 2014);
- the absence of differentiation of the target market: nearly 83% of clients are males, and more than 60% of them are older than 45 (SMG Insight, 2013). Segmenting the market and aiming at particular groups (e.g., groups by gender, age, geographic location, etc.) might help promote the rugby’s popularity (Smith, 2008).
The Markets to Be Targeted
The issues faced by the ARU allow for identifying the target markets that should be covered if the organisation is to gain additional fans and become more successful. In particular, the current strategy of the organisation is aimed at pursuing all the customers independently of their age, gender, and so on; thus, it uses an undifferentiated marketing strategy (Kotler, Armstrong, & Cunningham, 2005), hoping that this would permit for making this game universally popular (Australian Rugby, 2016a). However, due to the decreased participation in rugby matches (Smyth, 2015), it is evident that this method is not working. Therefore, it might be recommended to create a marketing strategy that would still target a broad audience, but would attempt to reach each of the different subpopulations individually. For instance, a new promotion campaign might include separate prompts for women and men, different advertising for a variety of age groups, and so on.
In addition, it has already been mentioned that the ARU is practically not represented in the international sports market, and even in the domestic, Australian market, it is only to be found in two states (Logan, 2014). Therefore, for the organisation to achieve success, it might be recommended to expand both in the domestic market (to the rest of the states) and in the international market (for instance, by taking more active part in international competitions on rugby). Of course, this will require an additional influx of resources – for example, it might be needed to address one of the weaknesses of the Wallabies, which is the inconsistency of success in the previous international competitions; this makes the future success of the team even more dependent on the economic environment, or, more specifically, on the potential risks of the cuts of government spending.
It should also be noted that the Porter’s five forces analysis (Porter, 2008) unveiled the fact that the threat of substitution for rugby is high in the Australian market, and that the competitive rivalry is also high. However, it should be observed that, while rugby can easily be substituted by other kinds of sport, these other types of sport can easily be substituted by rugby as well. Therefore, it might be advised that the ARU launches an aggressive promotional campaign aimed at particular subpopulations of possible fans, and that one of such subpopulations might include those who already follow the events in other kinds of sports, e.g., in football. It is possible to utilise the strengths of the ARU, for instance, the long history of the organisation and the considerable population’s awareness of the Wallabies. It is, however, clear that gaining over the clients of other sports might be difficult, but it might be easier than attracting those people who are only marginally interested in sport, or those who are indifferent to it (Chandrasekar, 2010).
Positioning the Product
Product positioning is a method which is utilised in marketing in order to more effectively attract particular groups of customers and stimulate them to purchase a certain product or service (Solomon et al., 2013). The technique of positioning is tightly interwoven with the problem of market segmentation; the crux of positioning is to create a message which would be heard and apprehended by the target audience (Chandrasekar, 2010). The segmentation of the market has already been discussed above; the ARU should make an attempt to reach a wide array of different audiences by appealing to each of them separately. Thus, the game of rugby can still be positioned as appropriate for individuals of any gender, age, and so on; but in each presentation of this game, apart from the provision of a general prompt for anybody, one particular audience should be addressed.
For instance, an advertisement could state something such as “Rugby – a game where everyone is welcome! Do you like playing sports with your classmates? Then watch the matches of our rugby teams and follow this sport!”, thus being aimed at young people who are students, simultaneously mentioning that anyone is welcome. Such an approach would allow for retaining the status of rugby as a sport that can become a hobby of anyone, but it would also permit for reaching particular subpopulations that may be interested in it (Chandrasekar, 2010), and specifically drawing their attention to the game of rugby and to the Wallabies. Also, translating the message that everyone could be interested in rugby might prove useful in breaking the stereotype that rugby is an elitist type of sport.
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In addition, the analysis of the macro environment (more specifically, of the socio-cultural environment) (Solomon et al., 2013) has revealed that rugby is deeply embedded in the Australian culture. Therefore, it might also be possible to appeal to the long-standing Australian tradition while promoting this game.
The Overall Approach to the Marketing Mix
Based on the previous analysis, it is possible to supply recommendations for the Wallabies regarding the marketing mix which should be utilised in order to increase the success of the organisation (Havaldar, 2014).
The core product sold by the organisation is related primarily to the entertainment, excitement, and leisure spent with one’s friends or relatives. The product that is supplied by the ARU can be aimed at any audience, and it has been recommended that it targets each of the audiences separately. This might also allow for finally reaching the audiences that are traditionally not the fans of rugby (SMG Insight, 2013).
The current strategy that the ARU pursues entails keeping the prices of its products (tickets) on a relatively low level in comparison to those of its competitors, so that the potential clients might be able to afford to visit a game in this kind of sport, and, possibly, to opt for visiting a rugby match in the situation when all the other matches are considerably more expensive (Australian Rugby, 2016a). It is apparent that this should be an effective approach due to the fact that the competitive rivalry in the market is strong, and there is a possibility that the Wallabies will lose a number of customers if its prices go up considerably; and also because the organisation might be able to attract the customers of matches in other sports if the prices on tickets for those sports are relatively high enough.
The ARU has recently adopted the strategy of promoting the game of rugby by utilising a variety of online platforms (Australian Rugby, 2016a). The product provided by the Wallabies is also advertised by using the online media. In addition, the organisation sells the gold Wallabies’ jerseys, which also spreads the information about the team. However, in order to reach all the components of the target audiences, it is insufficient to employ only online platforms; for instance, elder people are usually not very skilled with the computer, and thus are virtually unable to gain the information that can only be found on the Web. Therefore, it might be recommended that the ARU should also use other channels of advertising, such as the radio and TV (although these channels of promoting are expensive), or perhaps the physical advertisement that would be accessible to all the audiences, such as billboards (Solomon et al., 2013).
Because the promotional strategy involves a considerable degree of utilisation of the online channels, it is possible to recommend using the Web so as to deliver the product to the customers, instead of making these clients visit a match physically. However, the Wallabies ought to intensively expand in the online market for such services, for the organisation has a lower number of Facebook and Twitter followers than, for instance, the Australian Cricket Team. In addition, the product should also be placed in a way that would allow those categories of potential customers who do not use online resources often (e.g., elderly people) to still be aware of the matches of the Wallabies, and to have an opportunity to watch them if they so desire. For this purpose, the existing contacts with the channels (Channel Ten and Fox Sports) should be retained (Australian Rugby, 2016b), and the ARU might wish to contact other channels and similar institutions as well (Solomon et al., 2013).
Therefore, the ARU faces a number of problems in the market, the main of which being a decline in the number of visits to the matches, poor market coverage, and a marketing campaign that is aimed at an undifferentiated market. It is recommended to target additional domestic and international markets; to differentiate the market and offer the ARU’s products to each of its particular segments separately; and to position the product accordingly. Recommendations about a particular marketing mix that should be adopted are also provided.
Australian Rugby. (2016a). 2016-2020 Australian Rugby strategic plan. Web.
Australian Rugby. (2016b). Australian Rugby announces new media rights arrangements for 2016-2020. Web.
Chandrasekar, K. S. (2010). Marketing management: Text & cases. New Delhi, India: Tata McGraw-Hill.
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Porter, M. E. (2008). The five competitive forces that shape strategy. Harvard Business Review, 86(1), 78-93.
SMG Insight. (2013). The global fan base of Rugby Union. Web.
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Smith, A. C. T. (2008). Introduction to sport marketing. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
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