Fix What's Broken: The ROI of Pivoting Your Marketing Strategy / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Marketers need to change what's not working. Learn how the NBA is pivoting how their brand engages with its female audience.

It’s the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

In business, the better bottom-line approach is to consider making a change when something isn’t working.

Pivoting your marketing strategy can lead to more effective results and boost your return on investment or ROI.

As noted in an infographic by MBA@UNC, an online MBA program, the sports industry is one sector challenging itself to pivot by reimagining how it engages with its female fan base.

In the past, women have often been an afterthought in the male-dominated world of sports. However, since women’s purchasing power is growing they control 70 to 80 percent of consumer purchases with incomes expected to reach $18 trillion by 2018 sports marketers are focusing on how to capture these previously untapped dollars.

Such efforts are being replicated across a number of leagues, including the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.  Companies are tapping into the products and services that women use most and are creating female-friendly campaigns.

Adidas is one such company, and they’re turning to an emerging trend to optimize their targeted marketing efforts: ethnographic research

Related Article:The Business of Smartphones: The Impact of Connected Women Consumers on Today’s Marketplace

This branch of anthropology tries to understand how people live their lives, and Adidas and other big brands are using it to ensure the best ROI from marketing strategies and product development. Instead of performing market research online or over the phone, ethnographic researchers visit consumers in their homes and offices and indirectly observe them in an attempt to gain insights.

Fitness as a Sport

Adidas has been using ethnographic research for some time with the help of consulting firm ReD Associates, which specializes in this field. As an example of Adidas’ efforts toward women, ReD mailed dozens of female customers a disposable camera, asking them to take a picture of something that made them work out.

Of the 30 women who responded, 25 sent back a picture of a little black dress. According to the writer describing the scenario, “The company had assumed that most customers were training to be good at specific sports; in fact, for many, fitness itself was their 'sport'.”

ReD is one of a handful of consultancies that are digging into the details of everyday consumerism at such a granular level. While the use of quantitative data is an essential and accepted tool that traditional consulting firms use to drive business analytics and marketing strategies, firms like ReD rely more on immersive experiences with their prospects a technique that anthropologists refer to as “participant observation.” This approach both builds trust and enables deeper insights than what traditional methods alone can achieve.

Keeping an Eye on ROI

Much as startups need to adhere to lean practices to optimize ROI when making a product pivot, so must their marketing departments. One key to making such a pivot profitable is the ability to measure results. Although ethnographic research may provide deeper insights into what consumers really need, most companies still rely on the steady hand of data to guide strategy and analyze its effectiveness.  

Related Article:Get Connected: 10 Ways to Reach Today’s Savvy Female Consumers

According to a McKinsey & Company analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years, “companies that take a more data-centered approach improve their marketing return on investment by 15 percent to 20 percent.” To achieve such results, the authors of the report cite three key strategies that these data-driven companies use to drive their marketing success:

  1. They use analytics to identify valuable business opportunities to drive better decisions
  2. They understand the customer decision journey
  3. They embrace speed and efficiency

Ernst & Young experts agree with the need to focus on the big data goldmine to measure marketing ROI, yet say that many companies aren’t doing it effectively largely due to fragmentation issues. As Woody Driggs, Global Advisory Customer Leader, EY, notes, “All the data is there and ought to be calculable, but fragmentation makes it very difficult to understand whether there is a direct correlation between the outcome you’re measuring and a particular marketing initiative.”

Related Article:Reaching Millennial Women: The Continued Rise of Visual Social Platforms

Regardless of the approach that’s used to determine if and how a company needs to make a pivot in its marketing strategy, it will be essential to measure the ROI of such a move. The sports industry is certainly keeping an eye on the response of their female fans and other companies should know how to measure the results of their efforts as well.

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