* Keywords: Team Loyalty, Self-monitoring, Fan Behavior, Professional Football
Although building and maintaining a loyal fan base has become critical for sport organizations, little research has been done in this area. An extensive investigation of loyalty exists within the consumer behavior literature, but the current study was one of the first to examine loyalty within a team sport context.
In order to better understand differences in individual loyalty to athletic teams, the purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of the personality variable, self-monitoring. A number of studies in the social psychology literature found the construct of self-monitoring influenced the amount of loyalty exhibited by individuals in a variety of settings (Jenkins, 1993; Richards, 1994; Snyder, Gangestad, & Simpson, 1983; Snyder & Simpson, 1984). In each study, high self-monitors were less loyal than low self-monitors. A similar relationship between self-monitoring and team loyalty would have definite implications for sport marketers. If high self-monitoring fans are less loyal and, therefore, more likely to switch favorite teams, sport marketers would be well advised to focus their marketeering efforts on appealing to high self-monitors, particularly when the tendency for disloyalty is high (e.g. team is performing poorly, popular players are traded).
Consistent with prior loyalty research, the study examined loyalty behavioral and attitudinal dimensions. The behavioral dimension was operationalized using length of allegiance (number of years as a fan) and frequency of team switching (number of times team allegiance was switched). The attitudinal dimension was operationalized using Mahony, Madrigal, & Howard's (1998) Psychological Commitment to Team (PCT) scale. The respondents (n = 151) were college students at a large Southwestern university in the United States. The relationship between loyalty and self-monitoring, operationalized by Snyder & Gangestad's (1986) 18-item Self-Monitoring Scale, was examined using hierarchical regression and chi-square analyses.
The study provided support for the hypothesis that low self-monitors will display greater behavioral loyalty than high self-monitors, but did not provide support for a similar hypothesized relation between self-monitoring and attitudinal loyalty. The study, therefore, provided some support for the hypothesis that team support will be affected by team performance more for high self-monitors than low self-monitors. This finding is the first to demonstrate that at least one personality characteristic impacts team loyalty.
This finding also has implications for sport marketers. Because the current study suggests high self-monitors are more likely to switch favorite teams, sport marketers should focus their efforts on preventing this type of disloyal behavior. While the study provides evidence that high self-monitors are more prone to defect or switch their allegiance from favored teams, sports marketers can implement programs to reduce the potential for this behavior to occur among high self-monitors.
Three specific preventative actions are discussed in the paper, including: a) stressing the positive impact that being a fan of the team will have on the individual's public image, b) attempting to elicit emotional reactions from team advertisements, and c) carefully choosing endorsers to be used in commercials. While further research on advertisements in sport is warranted, the findings in the current study provide some guidance to sport marketers.
Understanding fans has become critical to sport organizations in recent years. As a result of increased competition and rising financial pressures (e.g. Fulks, 1996; Howard, 1999), sport organizations can not afford fluctuations in fan support and need to maintain a large base of loyal fans. Loyal fans can be quite valuable to an organization because they are more likely to attend games, purchase team merchandise, watch games on television, and listen to games on the radio. …