CSN Bay Area columnist Andrew Baggarly reports some pretty good news for fans of bobbleheads, the San Francisco Giants, and both bobbleheads and the San Francisco Giants: the team is expanding the quantity of team bobbleheads given away on their bobblehead giveaway days.
They’ll be available to the first 40,000 fans – meaning all but the last to arrive will receive one. AT&T Park holds close to 42,000 at standing-room capacity.
That should help to alleviate what had become a major issue on bobblehead giveaways in the past: Fans began lining up hours before the gates opened, making it a mess just to get into the ballpark in a timely fashion. I actually attended a Tim Lincecum bobblehead day as a paying customer some time ago and we almost missed the first pitch, even though we arrived 90 minutes ahead of time.
Those delays also cost the Giants when you consider all those fans waiting to get into the ballpark could be buying food, beer and concessions.
In past years, the Giants limited bobblehead production to 25,000 or fewer.
Baggarly brings out a really key “invisible” benefit to process optimization with teams’ operations – not only what issues and problems are alleviated (the waiting in line) but also the growth in demand for resources and services (such as concessions). Since we as customers are so focused on problems and not as much on opportunities when we are frustrated, teams worry more about firefighting than optimizing the customer experience.
But let’s take a deeper look at the costs and benefits of this decision by the Giants.
Ideally, you want supply to meet demand. Too much supply means you’ve wasted money. Too much unmet demand means you’re leaving a lot of money or opportunity on the table. 20 years after the bobblehead craze took off with some nifty ESPN commercials for their baseball coverage, bobbleheads are still all the rage. Bobblehead giveaway dates almost always come with big attendance spikes. Demand remains huge. 40K or 25K bobbleheads, you’re still probably going to sell out.
Let’s say the additional 15K bobbleheads given away cost $3 per doll, so the total expanded cost for inventory is $45K. Some (or all) of that cost can be eaten by a sponsor – who wouldn’t want their logo slapped on the base of a bobblehead? Total cost to the team for the additional inventory is, eh, $23K (a conservative estimate, if the team and sponsor go halvsies).
But like Baggarly said, if supply meets demand and fans don’t have to rush to stand in line at the ballpark to make sure they get a bobblehead, the lines should diminish in length and in early arrival times. Parking will be easier and less rushed, and fans will be less stressed in arriving for a game. Instead of waiting in such long lines (90 minutes ahead of first pitch, and Baggarly almost missed it!) patrons can be ready and available for marketing and advertising smothering the ballpark’s digital boards and outfield walls with more butt-in-seat time. Sponsors’ ads get more attention, and fans build more goodwill with the team. Maybe that extra attention to ads helps get a few extra pennies from sponsors.
What else? Concessions sales! I think it’s easy for teams to assume that fans will consume the same concessions, whether they’ve been waiting in long lines or they’ve been comfortably seated, so why put in the effort to optimize their efforts?
What is forgotten is that concessions are expensive money-wise and time-wise. Reducing the amount of time patrons must invest in getting concessions makes it easier for them to buy concessions. If teams make concessions purchases less painful, fans will be less reluctant to take advantage. If about one-quarter of attending fans (10,000?) swap their time waiting in lines outside the stadium for waiting for concessions they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased, and they each provide an additional $2 in incremental income, that’s $20K the team has recouped they might not have otherwise had.
And then there’s goodwill. A great fan experience. Make the time at the ballpark as painless as possible and fans are more likely to return. This is one of those unmeasurable details, but it certainly seems to make a lot of sense.
By investing in additional bobbleheads, a safe assumption can be made that the team will make up that investment through additional concessions sales, optimized fan experience, and increased goodwill.
What do you think?