How the Winnipeg Jets are Using Their New Rewards Program to Engage With Fans and Build a Rich Data EcosystemPosted on March 22, 2023 by National Sports Forum | Selling It | SUBSCRIBE
By: Camryn Henry
Dear Faithful Readers,
Spring is here and exciting events are happening in the sports world. Last night, Japan just took home the gold for the 2023 World Baseball Classic and now we get ready for the MLB season to start next week! Also, college basketball fans are getting ready to cheer on their teams in the “Sweet Sixteen” bracket for March Madness; let’s see who continues on to the “Elite Eight”. For this week’s “Selling it…”, we shift over to the NHL to discover how the Winnipeg Jets increased their fan engagement by 245% through their new Rewards Program, Jets 360, and how they compiled useful data for a successful future. I hope you enjoy it!
Sr. Manager, Marketing & Communications
Connecting with fans outside of the arena and beyond just game day experiences is a significant part of any sports team’s culture. What better way to represent your team than to get the whole city involved? The Winnipeg Jets, in Winnipeg Canada, are doing just that with their newly developed rewards program Jets 360. Launched in conjunction with their new mobile app in October 2022, Jets 360 is a free rewards program that allows fans to sign up, complete challenges, and earn pucks. Andrew Wilkinson, Director of Digital Strategy and Products for True North Sports + Entertainment, explained what these challenges entail, he said, “Using gamification theory, we created nine team, arena, and community-based challenges that fans strive to complete. These include things like game and event attendance for the Winnipeg Jets and the Manitoba Moose (AHL), food & beverage and Jets Gear purchases, trivia participation, and checking in at city landmarks, sponsor locations, and local hockey rinks.” By participating in these interactive challenges, fans can earn Pucks that are redeemable for various rewards through the team’s digital Puck Store. Pucks can also be used for entries into contests where fans can win unique prizes and exclusive experiences.
Each fan who signs up is assigned a Jets 360 ID that is scannable through a QR code on the app. Season Ticket Members can link their 360 accounts with their Ticketmaster account to unlock member-exclusive discounts at the team’s retail stores and arena concessions. These discounts are accessed through their personal QR code. Season Ticket Members also have access to other perks, such as free initial entry into select contests and the ability to use their pucks for additional entries for a greater chance to win. By asking Members and fans to scan their QR codes, the team is also able to track individual fan data and learn more about their behavior. Prior to Jets 360, the Winnipeg Jets had a more traditional rewards program through a third-party platform. “We just weren’t seeing it as a true driver of fan loyalty. We went on a journey to reassess what that meant for us and what would better engage our fans, not only in a rewards program but with the team in general,” Andrew explained as he discussed the process of developing this new program. Instead of primarily targeting Season Ticket Members, as the previous rewards program did, Jets 360 is targeted towards any and all fans. Andrew emphasized that the team also prioritized a community tie-in to create a meaningful impact outside of hockey alone. “Winnipeg is such a close-knit, passionate, and proud community,” Andrew exclaimed as he discussed the intentions behind creating the Jets 360 program.
With the city of Winnipeg in mind, the team set out to create an immersive, hands-on rewards program that would connect the fans with the community. Using new, innovative digital technology, Jets 360 was created to be a fun, rewarding experience for all fans and a helpful data insights tool for the team. Three main objectives were determined prior to developing this program, the first being to grow the game and engage new fans. Although the city of Winnipeg is a traditional hockey market, the team is aware that the city is diversifying and there are new fans, of both the sport and the team, that have yet to get involved. This program aims to target latent and casual fans, ultimately moving them up the fan pyramid. To do so, community-based challenges, such as checking in at local hockey rinks, are used as an exciting way to encourage new fans to learn about and enjoy the game of hockey at the grassroots level.
The second objective is to find new ways to continue rewarding the team’s most loyal fans. Although Jets 360 is for all fans, the team wanted to elevate the experience for its Season Ticket Members. Their goal was to create the app in such a way that it continues to add value to those who are loyal and already invested in the team. Season Ticket Members get to enjoy additional bonus features and discounts above those available to casual and latent fans.
The third objective, Andrew states, is to “continue to build out a rich, and first-party, data ecosystem and be able to quickly act on it.” Prior to Jets 360, the team was limited in where they could collect actionable fan data. Now, with Jets 360, the team is able to get much closer to a full 360-degree view of their fans through the data collected from the program. Information on their spending habits and their behaviors can be monitored through the challenges they complete and their personal ID that they scan when they purchase merchandise, food etc. With the help of these new tools and technology, the Winnipeg Jets had the opportunity to maximize the benefits for the organization in addition to the fans and broader Winnipeg community.
The team went through an extensive process to find the right partner for this platform. Ultimately, they partnered with Mirego, an award-winning Canadian-based Digital Strategy and Development firm. Mirego had prior experience in the sports industry and had worked on other digital products for the CFL, Golf Canada, TSN, and many more. Internal discussions about Jets 360 began in October 2021 with the development of the app and loyalty program officially beginning in January 2022. The team worked with Mirego for about 9 months, also conducting research on Winnipeg Jets fans and the broader Manitoba community. They surveyed over 2,000 Season Ticket Members and hosted smaller focus groups. Andrew shared their approach to research and the question they had in mind when conducting it. “We set out to make something special for our fans so we asked them and strived to discover what the subtleties, nuances, and niches were that make Winnipeggers and Jets fans unique versus other cities and fan bases.”
Jets 360 has seen amazing results in its first few months and has already surpassed the team’s projections. The Jets aimed to have 45,000 Jets fans download the app within the first year, which they have already achieved in the first three months since launching. In addition, almost 30,000 Jets app users have also opted into the Jets 360 program through the app. The team has discovered that about 25% of Jets 360 members are currently Jets or Manitoba Moose Season Ticket Members which means 75% of those in the Jets 360 program are casual fans. This directly correlates to the team’s objective to reach that casual segment of fans in the market and get them more engaged. They have also seen a positive trend in overall engagement levels. In November, there were 7,000 entries across all contests offered that month. That number jumped to 17,000 in December — an overall 245% increase in engagement. Andrew also shared some of the data they have been able to collect with Jets 360 so far, he said, “We are able to track food & beverage and Jets Gear purchases to individual members, which gives us useful insights into fan behavior which helps us improve the gameday experience” Overall, the team has seen an increasing level of engagement each month in all aspects of the program from both casual and loyal fans.
Looking ahead, the Winnipeg Jets are excited to enhance the program and continue offering a variety of contests and challenges to keep all fans engaged. As they scratch the surface of what Jets 360 has in store, they look forward to educating the market on the program, learning from feedback to improve their app and program, and obtaining new data about their fans’ purchases and behaviors. They also plan to continue evolving and adapting to the changing needs of their fan base. “We are looking to add some exciting functionality that will benefit our Members and provide us, as a team, with more flexible options to execute these offerings while also engaging corporate partners,” Andrew stated. They are currently in the process of adding new features, such as instant rewards, and are excited to keep rolling out new ideas as the seasons go on! Learn more about Jets 360 at https://www.nhl.com/jets/fans/jets360 and the new mobile app at https://www.nhl.com/jets/fans/app.
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