Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Consumer Attitudes towards Sponsorship: A Study of a National Sports Event in New Zealand

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Consumer Attitudes towards Sponsorship: A Study of a National Sports Event in New Zealand

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

Despite the growing interest in sponsorship in the marketing literature, there have been few documented research efforts devoted to understanding the value or effect of sponsorship or evaluating the results for a sponsorship effort. Sponsorship research to date has been largely descriptive and piecemeal. As a step towards better understanding the effects of sponsorship on consumers, Lee, Sandler and Shani (1997) developed and empirically tested scales to measure consumer attitudes towards sponsorship of global sports events. This paper presents the findings of a study that replicates the work of Lee, Sandler and Shani (1997) on the measurement of consumer attitudinal constructs towards sponsorship.

As sponsorship grows in importance when considered alongside other communications "tools" and becomes an increasingly important part of the promotional mix, it is Final draft received: 1st November 2000 imperative that marketing managers are able to assess its impact on their target market consumers. The findings of this research provide marketing managers with practical tools: constructs and measurement scales to assess consumer attitudes towards their sponsorship-linked activities. These constructs and their embedded scales will enable managers to assess and distinguish consumer reactions to an event being sponsored, to commercialisation of that event, and to identify the consumer behaviours likely to benefit the sponsor of the event. By examining consumer reaction to sponsorship programmes in this way, the findings of this research should be valuable in guiding marketing management sponsorship decisions in general, and in determining the contribution of sponsorship to brand equity, in particular.

The study focuses on evaluating the psychometric properties of three sponsorship . constructs in the context of an annual national sporting event in New Zealand, the National Provincial Championship (NPC) of New Zealand's national sport, rugby union. The NPC is the largest annual sporting event in New Zealand and attracts many spectators and television viewers throughout the country. Using a mail questionnaire, 115 respondents were surveyed for their attitudes towards sponsorship of the NPC. To reach the NPC viewing public, the subscription base of a national rugby magazine was targeted as providing an appropriate frame of rugby followers.

The results of the study demonstrate reliable and valid scales for three consumer attitudinal constructs towards sponsorship, and widen the scope of application for these scales as a research tool for assessing the consumer-related effects of sponsorship. In particular, this study of a major single sports event in New Zealand demonstrates that the sponsorship constructs developed by Lee, Sandler and Shani (1997) can be used meaningfully beyond the settings in which they were initially developed.

In measuring sponsorship effects, this study also provides useful insights for marketing managers and sponsoring organisations about the intangible impact of sponsorship on consumers as well as the traditional measures of awareness and preferences engendered by sponsorship. Building on Keller's view (1993, p.2) that consumer-based brand equity occurs when the consumer is "familiar with the brand and holds some favourable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory", this study endorses the view of Cornwell and Maignan (1998) that brand equity may afford an appropriate and useful framework for the analysis of brand-related sponsorship effects, and confirms the value of positive consumer attitudes to brand equity. The study has thus demonstrated that whilst any investigation of the effects of sponsorship on brand equity should consider both brand awareness and brand image, there are ways to contribute to an assessment of customer-based brand equity other than using traditional brand image and awareness scales.

Introduction

The use of sponsorship as a promotional activity has grown tremendously in recent years. …

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