Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Investigating Motivation, Attitudinal Loyalty and Attendance Behaviour with Fans of Australian Football

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Investigating Motivation, Attitudinal Loyalty and Attendance Behaviour with Fans of Australian Football

Article excerpt


This study examined how different factors contribute to attitudes and the behaviour of spectators attending an Australian Football League game. The results revealed that four factors--Team Interest, Vicarious Achievement, Excitement and Player Interest--were successful in predicting levels of loyalty, while five factors--Vicarious Achievement, Player Interest, Entertainment Value, Drama and Socialisation--predicted game-day attendance. This study illustrates the applicability of the Sport Interest Inventory developed in North America to understand motivational factors for Australian sports fans.






Australian Football

Executive summary

Sports marketers have always been concerned with increasing attendance at games and building loyal fans. Attendance generates revenue from ticket sales and corporate boxes, and helps drive other team revenue sources such as sponsorship, food and beverage concessions, advertising and media rights. Fans with strong attitudinal loyalty towards a team stand firm when their team performs poorly on the field, transfer their allegiance to team sponsors and are more likely to purchase team merchandise. This study investigated the link between motives, loyalty and attendance, with a view to understanding Australian Football spectators better, building loyalty and increasing attendance.

Attendees at a Fremantle Football Club home game in the Australian Football League (AFL) were surveyed during the 2004 season. Eight researchers collected a total of 651 completed questionnaires, and descriptive analyses showed that the sample was representative of the overall attendee population.

The Sport Interest Inventory (SII) was used to identify and measure the motives of the sports attendees. Multiple analyses revealed the SII to be a good fit for the data collected. This is important for marketers of team sports as they should now feel comfortable using the SII with fans of Australian Football. The SII has now been tested in North America, Japan and Australia with both men's and women's professional team sports. Since the SII was shown to measure reliably motivation at AFL games, it may also be applicable for other professional team sports, but this is yet to be empirically tested.

There are two main implications of this study for sports marketers. First, with respect to attitudinal loyalty, this research suggests that fans are interested in the team as a whole, and not in individual players. The way to build attitudinal loyalty is to promote the fan as an important part of the organisation and emphasise the sense of accomplishment fans will feel when their team is successful. Also important to generating attitudinal loyalty is to create an atmosphere of excitement surrounding the team. Sports marketers should examine their environment and determine the factors that can contribute to exciting events.

Second, to build and maintain attendance, team marketers should provide opportunities for attendees to socialise with others before and after games. The chance to meet new people and interact with other spectators was a significant predictor of attendance. Attendees also seek value-for-money entertainment, indicating that spectators compare the value of attending sports with other entertainment options, so ticket prices are not inelastic. Attendees are not attracted, however, by the prospect of a close and dramatic contest. Marketers should promote the enjoyment that comes from an emphatic victory rather than the drama associated with a close finish.

Since they often have little or no influence over on-field team performance, sports marketers need to search continually for ways to understand better their consumers and offer superior value accordingly. This study provides insights to help marketers to increase attendance and to build loyal customers. …

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