MLB among fastest-growing brands of '22

December 8th, 2022

Major League Baseball is one of the fastest-growing brands of 2022, according to a new report.

MLB ranked as the No. 15 fastest-growing brand this year among all U.S. adults, according to the report from global decision intelligence company Morning Consult, which was released Tuesday.

MLB was the only sports league on the list. The only other brand that was sports-related was Gatorade's new sports drink, Gatorade Fit. Gatorade is also a partner of MLB.

"It's great to see MLB acknowledged as a fast-growing brand," said Major League Baseball's chief marketing officer Karin Timpone. "I think the primary reason has got to be the exciting, dynamic athletes on the field. Our great athletes are connecting with people -- that's the basis, I think, of why there's some real momentum here.

"Coming off that strong base of what's happening with the game on the field and the players, what we're looking to do from a brand perspective is tell more of the story of baseball to a broader fan base. We want to enrich our relationship with avid fans, but increasingly what all of our marketing is doing is expanding the storytelling beyond the channels and the formats and the places where people would normally see our brand."

Morning Consult's annual report ranks the top 20 brands by measuring their growth in purchasing consideration over the course of 2022 -- the increase in the share of consumers who said they were considering purchasing from each brand from January to October. The rankings aim to showcase those companies and products that have "accelerated their consumer appeal and awareness."

The No. 1 fastest-growing brand of 2022 per the report was Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, followed by the shoe brand Crocs and the headphone brand Beats By Dre.

The full 2022 fastest-growing brands report is available here.

Timpone credits MLB's social media efforts with a large part of its brand growth in 2022. That entails both tailoring content to its specific platform (like Instagram reels or Tiktok videos) and, most importantly, combining MLB stars' feats on the field with their backstory off the field.

Two examples from the 2022 season: eventual World Series MVP Jeremy Peña's debut at shortstop for the Astros, and Aaron Judge's chase for 62 home runs.

When Peña hit his first career home run, his parents were mic'd up in the stands, including his father Gerónimo, a former big league player.

"Our live content capture team was there with his parents and it was just this incredible moment," Timpone said. "He hits a home run, his dad is there, and that really just took off on social media -- as a piece of content, but we also wrapped it with our campaign 'Enjoy the Show' from this past season. That's an example of telling a player's story from an early point on, so that in his wonderful performance through the postseason, people were able to follow and track his story, not only because of what he was doing on the field, but also the backstory and the connection to his family."

Judge's pursuit of Roger Maris and the Yankees home run record, meanwhile, was a must-watch down the stretch for both diehards and casual fans. But fans also got to see moments like Judge giving the record-tying No. 61 home run ball to his mom, Patty, and her reaction to the record-setting No. 62.

Coming from the sports arena, Major League Baseball was an exception among the brands on Morning Consult's 2022 list, many of which were food and beverage companies.

MLB increased from a 24.7% share of U.S. adult consumers -- including Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers -- who were considering purchasing from it in January to a 26.8% share in October, a +2.1 point increase. That was actually the same as the No. 14 brand in the rankings, Google Sheets.

MLB wants to bridge those demographics with targeted outreach to each group, by creating experiences specific to their generation and interests, and thinks baseball can do that successfully, especially because of the uniquely lifelong nature of its fandom.

"What's really interesting, when you look at data across lots of different professional sports, our potential relationship with a fan is over a much longer time," Timpone said. "Not to say that other sports don't have their peaks and moments. … A lot of them do. But if you look comparatively, baseball is much longer-term. It's potentially your whole lifetime. When I think about us showing up as a brand, it's because our authentic experience is relatable and compelling at various stages in your life.

"You'll see more of this in the coming year. Next season, we'll actually have a new campaign that will gain even more attention for what I'm talking about, crossing multiple generations. We're putting more marketing emphasis on connecting with a much broader fan base. Obviously acknowledging our wonderful fans who have been with us all along, but really there's a much broader base that could have a lifetime of fandom with us, and we've been reaching out to do that."

MLB joined the Morning Consult fastest-growing brands list in 2022 after no sports league or sports brand was among the top 20 fastest-growing brands of 2021. Timpone thinks 2023 will be even bigger.

"We have some pretty exciting plans coming with respect to how we're going to be expressing our brand. And so I think this is just the beginning," Timpone said. "MLB as a league, and all the clubs that are part of it, we're planning a pretty significant expansion of our brand message next year.

"It's great to be acknowledged in this report; it's just the beginning of something that I think is going to be a hallmark of what MLB will be known for."