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NC State
It was time for us to get an updated, data-driven answer to the question…what is the true value of our football tickets? Old Hat thoroughly researched our environment, then developed a comprehensive market-specific analysis that will allow us to more strategically develop our pricing models, while balancing the goals of maximizing revenue and filling seats. - Chris Boyer, Deputy AD for External Operations, NC State

NC State – NC State Looks for “Sweet Spot” with Ticket Pricing Analysis

Summary

NC State reached out to Old Hat to develop a strategy around football gameday pricing, not just for season tickets and single game sales, but also with parking. After several years of monitoring secondary market results and comparing it to their face value, they wanted to find a “sweet spot” – where they could maximize revenue yet still put butts in seats. Were they competitive against the market? Where could they make adjustments? How much of an adjustment was too much?

Strategy Development

Methodology

We set out to find answers to these questions but needed to develop a methodology around multiple data points:

  • Current ticket prices
  • Historical ticket sales
  • Secondary market sales
  • Historical secondary market data
  • Regression analysis on sales data
  • Survey of season ticket holders and single-game buyers

NC State provided their current and historical data, then Old Hat conducted a survey and sent to a database of 17,012 single-game and season ticket holders.

Wolfpack Survey By the Numbers

  • 4512 TOTAL RESPONSES (26.5%)
  • 3003 WPC AND STH (67%)
  • 2499 20+ YEARS OF NC STATE FOOTBALL (55%)
  • 1583 20+ YEARS IN THE WPC (35%)
  • 1289  NON-ALUMS (29%)

Most important factors when deciding to PURCHASE TICKETS:

  1. Seat location
  2. Opponent
  3. Parking/Tailgating Location
  4. Game time
  5. Ticket Price
  6. Priority Points
  7. Parking/Tailgating Price

We also asked Wolfpack fans:

Most important factors when deciding to ATTEND A GAME:

1. Opponent6. Weather
2. Success on the field7. Concessions
3. Game Atmosphere8. Fan Zone
4. Game Time9. Club Experience
5. Tailgate Experience10. Pass Outs
Note: Pass-outs is an NC State “tradition” in which fans, once in, can obtain a card, handed out by gate attendees, allowing them back in the stadium if they choose to leave at halftime.

Challenge

The sheer volume of data was enormous. NC State had sales information in different formats, from a variety of vendors and internal departments. This required us to spend hours putting it into a manageable collection so we could compare “apples to apples”. All told, about 25 different datasets were handed over – ticket sales by section, ticket availability, historical season and single sales data (2013-18), plus secondary market data.

We sorted through the datasets to determine how “important” some areas in the stadium were to fans. By using weighted average prices, we were able to rank the sections to get a better understanding of fan behavior against ticket prices and sales.

Our Role

The Old Hat team wore multiple, well, hats throughout the project, but we wanted to be sure that the finished project gave NC State all the requisite information needed to make the smartest decision about pricing.

We kicked things off by conducting an audit of their football gameday experience for their game against Florida State. We interviewed more than 100 fans of all walks of life, giving us insight to their views of the program and aspects of game day.

Additionally, we rated every aspect of their gameday experience including concession options, security, cleanliness, customer service, and more, so they would have a baseline understanding of where improvements could be made… and where they’re already doing a great job. We also provided a comprehensive report of our findings with recommended action items for how to improve the gameday experience for fans.

From there, we emailed a fan survey and cross-referenced responses with our market analysis to gain a better understanding of the football program’s position within the community.

We then combined the responses from the fan surveys with secondary market data to establish a price range of where ticket prices should be. NC State’s staff wanted an outside perspective to be able to tackle this project to make sure their own internal preconceptions weren’t impacting their decisions. Put another way – it’s much easier to read the ingredients on the label from outside the jar.

Our Data Analysis Results

The takeaways from the fan surveys were:

  • NC State fans believe tickets are competitively priced, especially those fans that have the potential to drive revenue (single-game and season ticket holders).
  • Price factors (tickets and tailgating/parking) are among the lowest of the factors when deciding to purchase tickets.
  • Of the 4,500 responses, only 27 mentioned ticket price as an area for improvement. (.6%)
  • Most mentioned topics: Parking (9.5%), Beer/Alcohol (9%), Pass Outs (8%), Tailgating (6%), Concession (6%)

Our conclusion from the data was:

  • Fans love to tailgate and Parking Passes are a premium product for NC State
  • Pricing adjustments made prior to 2018 ticket sales accurately reflected pricing on the secondary market
  • Some sections of the stadium consistently sell for a higher price on the secondary market
  • Within each price point in the stadium there are specific sections that average a higher price on the secondary market

We were able to identify specific sections in the stadium where tickets were seeing sizeable mark-ups on the secondary market.

Of those that listed Price as a factor for not purchasing

  • Believed Tickets are competitively priced
  • Did not believe tickets were competitively priced

Number of Stadium Sections that sold for more on the Secondary Market (16' - 18')

  • Sold for more all 3 years
  • Sold for more 2 of 3 years
  • Sold for more 1 of 3 years
  • Sold for less all 3 years

Other Survey Takeaways:

  • Of all ticket holder types, single-game buyers feel the strongest that tickets are competitively priced (90% agree prices are competitive).
  • Of all Season Ticket Holders, those that have been purchasing Season Tickets for 2-5 years feel that strongest that tickets are competitively priced (93% agree prices are competitive).
  • On the flipside, 79% of Season Ticket Holders that have purchased for 20+ years feel that prices are competitive.
  • More non-alums feel prices are competitive compared to NC State alumni (86% to 81%, respectively).
  • 82% of all respondents believe NC State football prices are competitively priced.

Other Data Analysis Takeaways:

  • In some instances Premier section tickets were being sold for over 350% more than face value on the secondary market.
  • The secondary market tends to reveal the truth about a section within the stadium. Fans know where the good seats are, and where they aren’t, the prices fall.
  • The secondary market tends to focus on the middle ground.  A majority of tickets sold on the secondary market are sold from the mid-range seat sections.  These were not “premier”, per se, but not nose bleeds either.
  • Fans could sell a single game parking pass a few times a season and cover the entire cost of their season tickets.

The goal of this project wasn’t to TELL NC State exactly what to do with their prices. Instead, it was to provide them with ALL of the information in a consumable format, needed to make the proper decision about their stadium.

If you would like to know more about survey and data analysis process, we’d love to chat with you.

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