Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

The Impact of the National Sports Lottery and the FIFA World Cup on Attendance, Spectator Motives and J. League Marketing Strategies

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

The Impact of the National Sports Lottery and the FIFA World Cup on Attendance, Spectator Motives and J. League Marketing Strategies

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the national sports lottery (toto) in 2001 and the 2002 FIFA World Cup for the Japan Professional Soccer League--J. League. In 2001 J. League attendances grew dramatically and were sustained in subsequent years, even though member clubs did not change many of their marketing strategies and chose to maintain a distance from toto. The evidence suggests that hosting the World Cup allowed the league to leverage the country's hosting of the event in order to generate long-term interest and attendance at J. League games. By contrast, toto appears to have had a short-term impact.

Keywords

social impact

attendance

motives

sport

events

Executive summary

The Japan Professional Soccer League (J. League) began play in 1993. After its initial popularity, attendance began to dwindle in 1996. J. League clubs failed to anticipate this decline through the misperception that attendance levels would continue and the alienation of fans due to sponsorship obligations. The J. League responded with grass-roots marketing activities to strengthen relations between the clubs and their local communities. Despite these efforts, attendance remained relatively consistent from 1997 to 2000. In 2001-02, two external activities emerged that had the potential to impact J. League attendance. The present study examined the impact of the national sports lottery (toto) introduced in 2001 and the hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup on attendance, spectator motives and marketing strategies. (Japan co-hosted the Word Cup with Korea.)

The Psychological Continuum Model (PCM) (Funk & James, 2001) was used as the theoretical framework to understand the social impact of toto and the World Cup. From the literature, five research questions were developed. Data for this study were taken from an ongoing research programme that surveyed spectators attending J. League matches during the years 1993-2004. Questionnaires were distributed at J. League games in the Tokyo Metropolitan area each year. Qualitative data was also collected during semi-structured interviews with two J. League executives.

The results revealed that J. League attendance declined after 1995 but increased by 49.5% in 2001, with average attendance of 16,548 and a total of 600,000 new spectators. The results also indicated that 65.6% of J. League spectators participated in toto in 2001 and this increased interest in game results, effort in gathering information before matches and in interest for the league in general. However, by 2003, the impact of toto had declined.

The World Cup had two separate impacts. The Japanese national team's first participation in the World Cup in 1998 increased new spectator attendance, but total attendance did not increase. Hosting the World Cup in 2002 succeeded in attracting new spectators, increasing total attendance and improving television ratings. Spectators before 2002 had a stronger attachment to the team, community and interest in the sport, while spectators after 2002 were more attracted by marquee players, the drama of the game and the enjoyment of simply being at a match.

Although the J. League has benefited from both toto and the World Cup, interviews with J. League executives confirmed that no marketing programmes were developed for toto. The league sought to maintain distance from toto by supporting social benefits but avoiding suspicion related to prearranged games and the negative image of gambling. This decision not to promote the lottery may have limited the long-term impact of toto. By contrast, the league implemented a World Cup ticket draw through member clubs in 2001 that had a more profound impact on attendance. These results suggest that marketers may benefit from external forces to help move individuals from initial sport awareness to a desire to attend a match as a spectator. However, marketers must leverage these forces through additional promotions to continue this momentum and move the individual from being a spectator towards becoming a loyal fan. …

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