Who is the target demo for MLS?

Who is the real target demographic of professional soccer in the U.S.? Is it Soccer Moms?  Is it Soccer players?  Is it Latino people?

Sure, Soccer Moms, Latinos and Soccer players make up some of the peripheral targets, but who makes up the core target?

One U.S. pro soccer fan thinks he’s the core target demo.  He’s 41 and 1/2 years old and had been a consistent fan of the big 3, football, basketball and baseball his whole life, until recently.  As a new Soccer fan and not having been a soccer player for more than 20 years, he watches snippets of world soccer leagues, but does not go out of his way to find them.  He doesn’t have Fox Soccer Channel to watch at home, though he wonders what life would be like with it.  He doesn’t own a soccer scarf and has no plans to purchase one.   

He supports Obama and likes to talk politics, but does not consider himself a Republican or Democrat.  He doesn’t tweet yet, but has recently investigated Facebook as a possible hobby.  He likes Spanish music a lot, but does not like watching American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.  He has attended one women’s Roller Derby and one Lucha Libre and only watches short stints of MMA, but he is ready to watch American Soccer every night of the week.

He only glances briefly at NASCAR, but loved Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell.  He wants to know a little more about Lacrosse and Cricket, but not too much.  He likes to watch and play Tennis a lot, but only can take small doses of watching or playing golf.  He likes to spend time with his wife and kid and wishes he had season tickets for a professional soccer team in his area.

He likes to travel, but does not like to get too involved in popular culture.  He is college educated, but thinks college is overrated.  He likes movies based on a true story, but really liked ‘Oh Brother, Where art Thou?.’  More than anything, he is really sick and tired of the big 3 sports and is trying to wean himself off of them.

He refuses to succumb to the word ‘pitch’ to replace the word ‘field’ and still hasn’t seen ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, but he did really enjoy the documentary on the NASL Cosmos, even though he’s not old enough to remember too much about the league.  He also refuses to succumb to the abbreviation FC or nicknames like Chivas and Real, which seem foreign and pretentious.  He’s looking forward to an old name coming back, Rowdies.  He gets confused by all the different cup competitions and would rather see a longer regular season of professional U.S. Soccer.

His socioecomoic status is middle class, but he relates well to all classes; middle, middle-upper, middle-lower, upper and lower.  He lives in an apartment and his wife keeps pushing him to buy a house.  His work fluctuates, which is another reason he needs a stable, semi-daily American Soccer league, so he can get away from all of his work problems. 

Above all, he considers himself a U.S. sports fan, who deals daily with his disenchantment for baseball, football and basketball.  He looks forward to the day he can go to a franchise restaurant where the volume is up on a U.S. pro Soccer league match like it sometimes is on the big 3.

6 thoughts on “Who is the target demo for MLS?”

  1. I hope this is not the target. The core target should be real soccer fans and the rest will eventually follow.

  2. I almost became the first to comment on this last night, but I wanted to sleep on it.

    This article sucked, dude.

    No offense, but MLS should focus on targeting anyone that enjoys soccer. I mean, every aspect of this guy could be debated. I especially found his age a strange thing…I mean, MLS should be targeting people in their 40’s? Not building allegience with those in their teens and 20’s? Not women? Not people who like other sports but are just curious about soccer?

    And why is he disenchanted with other sports? I know lots of hardcore soccer fans who also happen to love other sports. In fact, this guy I know down the street obsesses over soccer, rugby, and basketball.

    I think we need to take the mindset that MLS needs to target EVERYONE.

  3. Nope– it is still too early for this type of fan soccer in the US. The competition for the population’s attention is preventing a high adoption rate…plus basketball has ruined the nation’s patience for a tacticle game like soccer. I played soccer my whole life, took 10 years off, and started back again a couple years ago (realizing I was stupid to have ever stopped). Early adopters of anything all pay a premium to be the first. This is still the case with soccer. You get maybe 40 matches a year (on a non World Cup year) with a standard cable package. You want to watch soccer, you pay a premium for FSN, Setanta, or go to a bar and spend even more money. Until it doesn’t cost extra to be a fan, it will never be widely accepted. Not to mention the fact that watching the UEFA Cup games last week then watching the Galaxy and Sounders play…is like comparing Giselle Bunchen (sp?) with Rosie O’donnell. Same sport but one just isn’t as nice to look at as the other. The MLS’ answer? Add more teams to further dilute an already diluted talent pool.

    Another problem is that the MLS is looking out for their own best interests by keeping the best players here instead of letting them play overseas further developing their skills (at the expense of the US National team). In this respect, the MLS is actually making it harder for the US Team to be as successful as the could be.

    I’ll watch when it is on because bad soccer is better than great basketball and baseball…but the MLS is not good.

  4. Enjoyed the article, I’m a 43 y/o male and lots of the characteristics rang true for me. I hope soccer continues to grow in the U.S. I believe it is. I’m seeing interest from my brother who is 46 and from his son and daughter who are 11 and 9 y/o respectively.

  5. Great article. I’d argue that that same guy would rather watch an unscripted, open format like the NCAA basketball tournament than one of our many franchised leagues. He may take his wife to a franchise restaurant once in a while, but isn’t afraid to frequent independent establishments.

    As long as the powers that be continue to try and force the square peg of the American pro sports franchise model into the round hole of global soccer, you’re not really going to reach him. Until we, like the Japanese, and everyone else on the planet, finally embrace that one of the core tenants of the game is the open model, you can talk about target audiences all you want and it won’t matter.

    Soccer isn’t the most popular sport in the universe because of a crafty business plan and slick marketing. It’s the most popular because, unlike here, it’s not run like Outback Steakhouse. If the corporate culture that runs the MLS continue to insist that their odd model will one day work, that their tight control, ownership, and efficient management techniques will produce a better product than the rest of the world, U.S. club soccer will continue to stagnate.

    Soccer’s global success is rooted in the fact that it didn’t get bought up by a consortium that was more interested in profits than in the game itself. It’s success is due to thousands of investors that wanted to give back to their community, that didn’t measure all of their profits in cash, and whose spouses probably never let them hear the end of it. It’s a sport. It makes no real sense, and that’s the secret to it’s success.

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