Understanding motivations to uncover opportunities


The NBA is a cornerstone of American sports and entertainment, deeply embedded in American culture. However, in a changing world, they needed to rethink their traditional way of attracting and holding fans’ attention. It wasn’t just that ways of consuming content and engaging with brands had shifted; the NBA’s entire competitive set had stretched beyond sports. They were competing with anything that ate up share of time, share of mind, and share of wallet – so they needed to get a better handle on the motivating factors behind Gen Z’s decisions in these areas. The team came to us for a fresh perspective on key drivers and how to use those to evolve (and extend) their offering.


We needed to do a deep dive into the motivations driving the next generation of fans, and use these to uncover which core and stretch opportunities would most successfully support brand growth. We started with two fundamental questions:

1. Where should we be playing? 
Where should we focus – both within our heartland today and across broader opportunities tomorrow – to offer the greatest value?

2. How do we win with next-gen fans?
What are the specific unmet needs and motivations we must unlock to drive relevance and differentiation within those opportunities?

Stretching the brand proposition into new territories


To win with Gen Z, we needed to think outside the basketball court. We identified categories that sat at the cross-section of consumer motivations, sizing the opportunities in each to see which ones had the largest headroom for growth. After strategically evaluating the biggest opportunities from a brand fit perspective, we worked to integrate our more thematic learnings about what drives Gen Z into the NBA’s core platforms. This resulted in four key territories to inform renovation and innovation opportunities – covering everything from branding to future licensing considerations.


We led an ideation session with the product development team, focusing on how to integrate next-gen fan learnings into existing workstreams and innovation in the pipeline. This work ultimately informed new ways to stretch the NBA proposition further into Gen Z’s world, anchoring short- and long-term initiatives in the motivations that drive Gen Z attitudes and behaviors.