Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

The Impact of Consumer Knowledge on Brand Image Transfer in Cultural Event Sponsorship

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

The Impact of Consumer Knowledge on Brand Image Transfer in Cultural Event Sponsorship

Article excerpt


The paper presents some preliminary findings on the role of consumer knowledge in cultural event sponsorships. Using a field design, the impact of consumer knowledge on the brand image transfer was measured. Two international cultural events were examined and a total of 853 respondents participated in this study. The Kruskall-Wallis and Mann-Whitney tests were performed to determine whether there were any differences in brand image transfer between experts (?high-knowledge' spectators) and novices (?low-knowledge' spectators). The results reveal that image-building effects in cultural event sponsorship are considerably less pronounced if event spectators are highly knowledgeable about an event and its sponsoring brand. The findings indicate to what extent a brand may thrive on event sponsorship and how important it is to track current market segmentation and brand positioning.

Keywords: consumer knowledge, brand, image transfer, event sponsorship.


Sponsorship is largely recognized as a communicational phenomenon that has enormous influence on driving brand imagery and attitude formation (Gwinner 1997; Joachimsthaler & Aaker 1997; Cornwell, Weeks, & Roy 2005). All brands involved in sponsorship may capitalise on using this emotional bond between consumer and sports teams, players, festivals, tournaments, and build up associations of their own that accrue as a result of linking their logo to a sponsored object. Kevin Gwinner stated that ?when a brand becomes associated with an event, some of the associations linked with the event (e.g., youthful, relaxing, enjoyable, disappointing, sophisticated, élite, etc.) may become linked in memory with the brand' (Gwinner 1997, p. 146). If an event fosters visitors' imagery and conjures up associations in visitors' memories, it may also function as an endorser to the sponsoring brand. The meaning attributed to the event is likely to be transferred to the brand when the two are paired in an event sponsorship situation. A part of the event's image becomes associated with the sponsoring brand's image (Gwinner 1997).

There have been several attempts to establish a conceptual framework for brand image transfer in event sponsorship (e.g., Ferrand & Pages 1996; Gwinner 1997; Meenaghan & Shipley 1999; Smith 2004; Gwinner 2006) and a number of research projects were conducted to identify variables that moderate this process (e.g., Gwinner & Eaton 1999; Grohs, Wagner, & Vsetecka 2004; Chien, Cornwell, & Stokes 2005; Gwinner, Larson, & Swanson 2009). However, little consideration has been given to the relation between knowledge of spectators and the sponsor-event image transfer, even though the impact of consumer knowledge has been widely recognized in marketing literature (e.g., Alba & Hutchinson 1987; Celsi & Olson 1988; Rao & Monroe 1988; Alba & Hutchninson 2000; Roy & Cornwell 2004). Building on these findings, this paper evaluates the impact of certain consumer knowledge components on brand image transfer in event sponsorship. The term consumer knowledge in cultural event sponsorships is here generally attributed to a cumulative effect of prior experience of an individual with an event and its sponsors, and thus further subcategorised into ?event knowledge' and ?sponsor product category knowledge.' High-and low-knowledge consumers are hypothesized to react differently when evaluating brand-event links.

The following sections describe two studies employing quantitative methodology to discover the relationship between consumer knowledge and brand-event image transfer in cultural event sponsorship.

Theoretical Approaches and Hypothesis Development

Brand Image Transfer

In conceptualising what impacts brand image transfer in event sponsorship several theoretical frameworks are adopted and a number of moderating variables are examined. Most studies refer to the moderating effect of brand/event characteristics i. …

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