Editor’s Note: Insights That Work is a showcase of how the GRIT Top 50 Most Innovative Suppliers create solutions to some of the biggest challenges in insights today. This year’s edition provides case studies on brands like Nestle, Shell, Frito-Lay, and more.
Canucks Sports & Entertainment is a premier sports and entertainment company. It owns and operates the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and its home arena, Rogers Arena. It also owns the Vancouver Warriors, a professional team in the National Lacrosse League.
Meeting the increasingly high expectations of fans was a big goal for the Vancouver Canucks. “Sports fans have more entertainment options than ever before,” said Brad Pennefather, VP of Membership and Business Intelligence, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. “As an organization, we want our fans to visit Rogers Arena and have a great time regardless of the score.”
The Canucks already had an active and vocal fanbase on social media. The team, however, wanted to engage with fans in a systematic way to get quantitative and qualitative data and generate insights. Traditional engagement methods didn’t meet the company’s needs. Post-game surveys, for instance, didn’t provide real-time feedback and generated low response rates. Traditional panels had low representation from millennials and Gen Zs—demographics important to the team. Finally, email-based surveys used clinical and formal language, contradicting the Canucks’ energetic and fun brand personality.
The team used Chat Lab, the insights platform from Rival Technologies, to launch the Canucks Fan Chat Community. Building the community from scratch, the company used conversational chat surveys (or “chats”) and social media recruitment tactics to invite fans. Within days, nearly 5,000 fans opted in to join; 77% of members were under the age of 40.
“With our community, we can systematically capture feedback—both positive and constructive—from thousands of fans,” said Pennefather. “The insights we get are actionable, revealing what’s working and what’s 23 not, and what to do next.”
The community provides scale and agility. Fans respond quickly because they are notified of new chats via SMS and Facebook Messenger. For example, in one chat, 33% of people invited responded within the first 6 minutes. Average chat response rates are in the neighborhood of 50 to 70%.“
Our fans love the chats they get from Rival,” Brad said. “They are short, fun, and timely. They capture and reflect the Canucks brand personality in an authentic and effective way.”
Today, the community is a valuable source of business intelligence. From food and beverage options to intermission entertainment, community feedback is helping shape all aspects of the in-stadium experience.
The company is starting to tap into the community to influence product brand development and other business areas. For example, the company is incorporating fan feedback as it explores new ticket-subscription models—a big project with the potential to significantly improve revenue. More recently, the company used Rival’s platform to create a new community for the Vancouver Warriors.
“Ultimately, delivering a world-class fan experience requires continuous improvement,” adds Pennefather. “With our communities, we can keep our pulse on fan attitudes, opinions and preferences and use that insight to enhance our business outcomes. It’s a win for us— and a big win for our fans.”