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The Super League drama, or a lesson in mass vs premium in sport. Episode 4: The Lexus Concept

Our expert: Miklós Palencsár, the CEO of RISE Human Development System, business strategist, and mentor

So the trend is clear, global business is moving in a direction where there are distinct premium and mass products because that is how consumer society is structured. But then what needs to change in the Super League strategy? Do we need to make any changes at all, or just wait for the right time to prevail? The future will certainly tell, but it must also be noted that treating the issue as a business strategy question will determine the precise outcome of the drama from here on out.

Premium requirements

When building a business strategy, it is fundamental that it should serve the interests and support the objectives of the owner. The best strategists build a business strategy that is not just general, but tailored to the individual, leading to real success and happy owners in the background. They also built the Super League concept so that it certainly serves the interests of the client-owners.

“Yes, a good strategist doesn’t just build a successful company but sets the strategy for a successful company where the owner can live as a happy person. But to do this, you need to know the owner’s true motivations and real personality. I believe that the concept of the Super League is very clear and, moreover, it meets modern business and strategic requirements. Of course, one can argue whether it is good or not, but from a business point of view, that is unnecessary. It is a different matter, however, how the strategic objective can be achieved, what steps, timing and, above all, communication are needed. In my opinion, this is where the mistakes have been made. The concept itself raises questions, because it is a very important strategic principle that, once you have started in the premium direction, you cannot stop halfway, because then you will only end up with a mass product that is hated by the masses. In this case, that is exactly what you see and hear, i.e. even if you have not been involved in the process, for a good strategist, it is a clear sign that you have not taken the pure premium concept all the way. In my view, from this point onwards, neither the communication nor the programme design can be adequate, and this will have to change in the future,”stated Mr Palencsár

The principles state that the best way to make a product premium is to make it difficult to reach for the masses, which business operators can achieve by charging a high price or making it more difficult to obtain. Another important aspect is the perfect professional background, a well-developed and well-communicated brand. Appearance is also very important, which for the premium category has meant a minimalist trend since the Great Recession. And there is another factor: uniqueness.

“One of the most important requirements for a premium product is that it must have what is known as ‘unique expertise’, i.e., it must have specific knowledge and conditions that make it unique in the world. I believe that Super League has passed the test in this respect and will be able to meet the other conditions in the future, although it should be added that a really good premium brand starts with a very serious brand-building process. That is not the case here. However, there is a factor that is an absolute rule in the creation of the premium direction, and I think that this will cause a serious headache for the Super League,” the expert warns.

Zara will not become Prada

So, let’s take a look at what has been strategically forgotten in the Super League and think about a change in this area.

“The answer is simple: a mass product will never become a premium one. It works the other way round; we have good examples of this in the last decades: Apple, Lexus etc. But once a product has fallen into the mass category, it can only be lifted out of it again with a strategic re-launch. In all cases, this means a new brand name, slogan, design, and brand-new conditions. Translating all this into football language and at Super League level: it’s a bit like the owners going into a Toyota dealership and quadrupling the price of every car in an attempt to make it premium. That would definitely drive away the traditional Toyota customers or cause them huge dissatisfaction, but it would not attract Porsche customers to the Toyota showroom. I know the analogy seems nonsensical, but it is strategically correct. What we can do, however, is to highlight certain Toyota models, give them a new look, rebrand them, build a special concept and communication around them, provide them with assistance and priority services, and then increase the price several times over. That way, Toyota can keep its customers, and those who want to can move up. In addition, you can attract or bring back customers from other elite brands. Obviously, this would have sounded like nonsense 40 years ago. Today, having built a very successful new brand with this strategy, it is a very real process. So, what I miss most about the Super League process is the “Lexus concept”. If only because I have built nearly 100 product concepts and related business strategies over the last 20 years, and none of them would have worked without it. Of course, there are always other ways to succeed,” added Mr Palencsár.

There will certainly be a lot more talk about the Super League, but let’s always keep in mind that football is a game that dances on the border between business and social values. And as such, there will never be a perfect, universally adored solution in the long run.

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The Super League drama, or a lesson in mass vs premium in sport. Episode 3: Generations, real profit, and a business approach