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The Super League drama, or a lesson in mass vs premium in sport – Episode 2: Decision-making mechanisms and personality-based strategy

Our expert: Kevin Vermillion, COO of the RISE Human Development System

We already know that football is a mass product. Of course, we are looking at it from a business-strategic perspective. However, in a market of this size, if there is a mass, there needs to be a premium. This has to be accepted as a fact. In addition, it is not that difficult to adopt, as the sport already has a premium equivalent. It’s just that it has been pushed with great intensity by decision-makers towards the masses, and then the gap has been growing in recent years, calling for a concrete premium solution. The creators of the Super League are well aware that something new and astonishing needs to be done, because if they don’t do something, the “premium consumers” will turn their backs on the sport. And however humane we are, if the decision-makers in households with greater wealth disappear from the viewing public, there will be serious sponsorship problems there, threatening to collapse the business in the not-too-distant future.

Consumer categories

Now, let’s dig deeper into this premium versus mass issue. First, let’s clarify the exact meaning of the two terms. To really understand the categories, it’s important to understand a basic principle: having a lot of money does not make someone a premium consumer, and just because someone doesn’t have as much money or is in worse financial shape, that doesn’t necessarily make them a mass consumer. Thus, raw wealth and disposable income do not determine who falls into which category. This misunderstanding has led many businesspeople astray for a very long time. The difference between true premium and mass consumption is primarily determined by the customer’s decision-making mechanisms, main drivers, and motivations. Since these result from our personalities, we can determine whether our personality puts us in the premium or mass category. A premium consumer does not necessarily spend more than a mass consumer. But the two categories are quite different in terms of what their members spend the same money on.


“It is our personality and the resulting behaviour that determine the choices we make. In RISE’s case, we have finalised four main personality type orientations based on extensive research, and knowing them is essential to understanding the contrast between premium and mass. Of the main categories of Ruler-Individual-Supporter-Expert, the Ruler and the Supporter are the most relevant for this topic. The Ruler is a leader for whom brand and status are the most important buying criteria, someone who wants to be a VIP, including the special attention that comes with it. For them, their stature and the way it is presented to the outside world are important, so they like to belong to “elite clubs” that are difficult to access. This personality type has been the basis of serious business strategies for decades. The other, the Supporter, is the opposite. They want to blend in, do not spend on brand-name goods, and definitely do not want to show off any status or position. So, it follows that the Ruler represents the real premium direction, while the Supporter represents the mass direction,”

– explained RISE’s Human Development System’s COO.

On the other hand, it is understandable that these two camps are quite different in their thinking, behaviour, and reactions, and it can be argued that what is sympathetic to one camp is certainly not to the other, and that’s putting it mildly. But what can be done?

“When it comes to business strategies, we often have to explain to company managers and owners that not everyone thinks like them or like the managers they have hired. For a Supporter, a premium product is tried and true; many people have already bought it, and references are available. Why is that? Mostly because they are afraid to take a risk. Of course, they don’t articulate this. For a Ruler, the premium is the exact opposite. If a lot of people have already bought the same product, they don’t need it; in fact, it is worthless to them because everyone has access to it, so this product cannot show the difference between themselves and the masses. There is a lot of debate about which direction is more appealing, but the point here is that we do not have to think the same way, yet we have to respect each other’s thinking. Just by understanding this and actually putting it into practice, I have personally seen several companies change course,”

– continued Mr Vermillion

But how can these decision-making mechanisms and their strategic insights be adapted to the Super League?

To be continued…

Prev episode

The Super League drama, or a lesson in mass vs premium in sport – Episode 1: How did football become a mass product?