Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

The Role of Perceived Fit in Fans' Evaluation of Sports Brand Extensions

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

The Role of Perceived Fit in Fans' Evaluation of Sports Brand Extensions

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study is one of the first efforts in sports marketing literature to assess sports fans' evaluation of brand extensions introduced by a professional sports team. Using measures of perceived fit between the parent brand and the extensions, it is hypothesised that increased fit will result in more positive fan evaluations and higher intention to purchase the team's extensions. Results from correlation and regression analyses provide support for this hypothesis.

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Executive summary

Product extensions are new products or services introduced under an established brand name either in the same (line extension) or a new (brand extension) product category. Brand extension strategies have been particularly prominent among consumer brands, and have received considerable attention in mainstream marketing literature over the past decade (e.g. Aaker & Keller, 1990; Keller & Aaker, 1992; Park, Milberg & Lawson, 1991).

Recently, there has been a plethora of brand extensions offered by sports teams aiming to generate new profits but also to enhance the relationship with their fans (Apostolopoulou, 2002). The prominent use of these practices in the sports setting calls for further study to supplement the existing sport-related research (Apostolopoulou, 2002; Campbell & Kent, 2002; Chadwick & Clowes, 1998). Past studies have suggested that one of the variables that affect the performance of brand extensions in the market is the perceived fit between the parent brand and the extension. When the fit between the established brand and the new product is high, it is easier for consumers to associate the two products and transfer any positive associations that they might have about the parent brand to the extension (Boush, Shipp, Loken, Gencturk, Crockett, Kennedy, Minshall, Misurell, Rochford & Strobel, 1987), leading to more positive evaluations of brand extensions (Boush & Loken, 1991).

Using a sample of 300 fans of a highly popular Greek professional sports team, the study attempted to assess the perception among fans of the fit of 10 team brand extensions. In addition, this study examined the role of perceived fit in fans' evaluation of extensions, as well as their willingness to purchase those products. To test these relationships, descriptive statistics were calculated, and correlation and regression analyses were performed.

The results provided support for the hypotheses and could be summarised in the following five points:

1 Perceived fit is higher for sport-related brand extensions.

2 Extensions that have higher perceived fit with the team receive higher evaluations.

3 Fans are more willing to purchase brand extensions that have high perceived fit with the team.

4 There is more than perceived fit when it comes to the extensions of sports brands.

5 Attractiveness and originality are selling points for a sports brand extension.

The findings of the present study can prove valuable to any sports brand considering the introduction of brand extensions. Establishing fit could be a challenging yet very necessary step in this process.

Introduction

Following the tremendous growth seen in the North American sports industry in the 1990s, the turn of the century has brought challenges for sports managers, not least of which are financial difficulties and a rocky relationship with the fans. Similarly, many European professional clubs are facing difficulties in the form of rising competition (from both sport and non-sport related sources) and economic struggles (Szymanski & Kuypers, 1999). Increasingly it is being suggested in the sports marketing media that to sustain long term viability, clubs could adopt an approach that would involve strategically managing their organisations as brands (e.g. Gladden, Irwin & Sutton, 2001).

According to Keller (2003), strategic brand management involves identifying where an organisation wants to be, and then creating marketing programmes to support that effort. …

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