Q&A: Phil McKee, research and insight executive, Football League

The Football League’s research and insight executive Phil McKee explains its online research initiative the Changing Room.

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Marketing Week (MW): How does the Football League’s new online research panel the Changing Room work?

Phil McKee (PM): We’ve been recruiting fans through the websites of our clubs. They follow a link and take a profiling questionnaire where we ask who they support, how many games they attend, how they watch football on TV and a few demographic questions. The plan is to have 15,000 fans on the panel from across our clubs. We obviously have a commercial angle behind this in terms of understanding our fans and their habits around the game but it’s also strongly related to football.

So we have discussion forums about the season so far and how members feel their team is doing.

MW: How can you use the panel to help clubs attract sponsors?

PM: There are hundreds of discussions going on through the panel but we can also have closed, moderated focus groups. For example, if Coventry City is talking to a car brand and it wants to know more about their fans’ attitudes to cars, we can proactively go out and get information on that. The aim is to build up that data on fans over time. Another option is to use the panel to test sponsorship activations before they roll out in order to see fans’ reactions to campaigns.

MW: Is the Changing Room part of a wider fan engagement strategy at the Football League?

PM: When our chief commercial officer [Richard Heaselgrave] joined just over a year ago, he said in his first team meeting that we need to get closer to our fans and understand them more. I completely agree with that sentiment. By knowing more about our fans we can better meet the needs of our clubs and commercial partners. Clubs can’t wait to make use of this either. I get a lot of calls from clubs asking for support with fan insight, particularly when they’re in talks over sponsorship, so this should really help.

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