The UFC has recently launched a consumer feedback service called UFC BackTalk. It is a web based survey tool allowing the UFC to acquire key feedback from its fans. They want to know stuff like what kind of fan are you (casual, hardcore), how long you’ve been a fan of MMA, if you watch other promotions, where you watch UFC pay-per-views, how you use UFC.com, and a bunch of other touch points for their product. As a marketer, I am a big proponent of customer feedback. And since the main demographic of the UFC fanbase is males 18-35, utilizing the internet to gather this data is a logical step.
In their most recent poll, about UFC 87, one particular question stuck out:
Please rank these fighters relative to one another with regards to how much you enjoy watching them fight.
– Cheick Kongo
– Cain Velasquez
– Brock Lesnar
– Frank Mir
– Gabriel Gonzaga
– Heath Herring
– Minotauro Nogueira
You can only vote for each fighter and ranking once; meaning only one fighter in the list can receive a 7 (most enjoyable to watch) and so on down the line to 1 (least enjoyable to watch). I found this particularly interesting for a few reasons:
1) The UFC usually takes the position that “we know our product and how to position our brand, so stay out of our business” and they tend to scoff at what the fanboys have to say on message boards. Now the UFC is essentially engaging these fanboys on a one-to-one level by crafting these controlled surveys.
2) The UFC Heavyweight division is in a bit of disarray since its champion (Randy Couture) has essentially left the company and the biggest draw in the division (Brock Lesnar) is known for his WWE antics and not his mixed martial arts prowess.
3) Upstart promotion Affliction has made a significant investment by signing some of the best Heavyweights in the world, including former UFC and IFL champs. If you take Big Nog and Lesnar out of the picture, the UFC Heavyweight class really isn’t that interesting or intriguing.
This survey question could be strategically placed to help the UFC determine where to place its resources to boost its Heavwieght roster. Or who to showcase on upcoming PPVs. Or to gain a better understanding of what type of HW fighter the fans want to see (potentially style over substance?). Or any combination of the these.
If you have iany interset in helping to mold how the sport of MMA evolves, I suggest you sign up and participate in the UFC BackTalk program. I received an invite via e-mail, as I’m on the UFC.com newsletter list.