The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Chief Marketing Officer Heidi Browning has focused her marketing strategy on capturing the interest of Gen Z, calling them the “linchpin to our growth.” Fortunately for the NHL (and their future growth), they seemed to have secured it.

According to the Ad Age-Harris Poll Gen Z brand tracker, the NHL was one of the top growth brands among Gen Z adults in Q3 2022. This ranking is based on quarter-over-quarter brand equity growth with data from QuestBrand. In Q3, the NHL experienced a +7.8 increase in brand equity among Gen Z respondents. In comparison, the NHL only saw a +2.6 lift across the general population of US adults.

Brand equity (a measurement of the overall value consumers see in a brand) is an average of four components – familiarity, perceived quality, purchase consideration, and perceived momentum. Of these, the NHL saw the greatest lift in consideration (+13.7) among Gen Z in Q3. This reflects Gen Z’s increased interest in engaging with the NHL.

Want to read more about entertainment industry trends? Check out our Entertainment: An Industry Snapshot report for insights and brand rankings.   

NHL Momentum 2022 – US Adults and Gen Z- Trended 12 Week Moving Average

Gen Z NHL Momentum 2022

QuestBrand. Base: US adults familiar with the NHL brand (blue), n=5,861. Base: Gen Z adults familiar with the NHL brand (purple), n=682. 1/1/22-12/31/22.

When we trend the NHL’s momentum throughout 2022 among Gen Z respondents (purple in the graph above), we see a solid upward trajectory throughout the second half of the year. This upswing in momentum shows that Gen Z respondents think that the NHL brand is on its way up.

To engage this younger demographic, the NHL has focused on strengthening their social media presence. In particular, they have built a presence on TikTok, which currently has 2.2 M followers.

“TikTok really took off during the pandemic. That had exponential growth, we really love that platform because it’s real and raw, and it tends to skew younger and more female. That is absolutely one of our growth objectives – to connect with younger, more diverse and female audiences. So TikTok is really key and critical for that.” – Heidi Browning, CMO

As part of the NHL’s social media strategy, Browning has focused on helping fans connect with the players, fostering a sense of inclusivity, and “gamifying” fan engagement. While capturing Gen Z attention remains a top priority for the NHL, it’s clear that they have already taken big strides in the right direction.


Catherine Ake

Senior Marketing and Content Strategist

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