What do the 5 a side facilities of the future look like?
More soccer for more people more often. This is basically what the 5-a-side operators keep doing since more than 20 years by now.
Is this going to change in the years to come?
It will, although apparently it doesn’t need to.
As a matter of fact, 5 a side facilities are only developed in a minority of the world countries, while soccer is rapidly becoming a global business including USA and China as last entries. The development of 5-a-side is directly related to soccer, in the sense that those who actually play the small sided version of the beautiful game do that because they want to be like Messi or Neymar, and not like Alessandro Rosa Vieira and Luis Amado Tarodo (futsal stars that most of them don’t even know existing).
No 5-a-side soccer player wears Alessandro Rosa Vieira (Falcao) shirt, they wear CR7 shirt instead, although Ronaldo would never beat Falcao at his own sport (in this sense 5-a-side soccer, like any other small sided soccer played for fun, is completely different from squash or padel, where no player would ever pretend being Nadal on the field).
This implies that the globalization of soccer brings along the development of 5-a-side soccer almost naturally and in its root form (more soccer for more people more often). Not surprisingly, 5-a-side is developing strong in USA and China alongside with the increasing awareness of soccer in these countries*.
But 5-a-side soccer operators are wrong if they think that this is not going to change in the short term, and if they want to understand what will the 5-a-side facility of the future look like, they need to ask themselves the question “what has changed in the relationship between soccer and the spectators, ultimately the 5-a-side players”?
In countries where 5-a-side soccer is already present, and especially where it has consolidated, I see a tendency towards more customers (and families AND women) oriented facilities if not real “golf-club shaped” facilities to foster the sense of belonging and increase retention and spending per-capita. This trend will expand everywhere in due term.
In a world where anyone is lead to believe that he can be Messi or Ronaldo or eventually get to know him personally (through social medias), it is not difficult to imagine tailored services for the players that reply the same experience his hero lives, not only on the field but also before and after the match.
I call this shift towards a new customers tailored facility model, “Identification marketing”, and this is going to be the challenge for future operators**.
*In new countries, despite some minor adaptations in consideration of local habits, we don’t see the business model changing much, at least for the first years of operations.
**At WSBSPORT we have imagined a new business model for a 5-a-side network, and we are discussing it deeply with many operators worldwide in our capacity as strategic advisors.