Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Marketing a Social Experience: How Celebration of Subculture Leads to Social Spending during a Sport Event

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Marketing a Social Experience: How Celebration of Subculture Leads to Social Spending during a Sport Event

Article excerpt


Attendees at sport events typically do more than watch sport or attend ancillary activities arranged by event organizers. Attendees also socialize, dine out, shop, join local tours, and drink. The event goer's overall experience therefore incorporates these experiences as well as event entertainments. Indeed, the attractiveness of events is elevated when attendees can incorporate an array of tourism experiences when attending an event (Chalip & McGuirty, 2004), particularly when the experiences impart a sense of festivity (Handelman, 1990). Festive experiences are important not merely because they are an added attraction to the event, but also because they engender positive emotions that can stimulate spending by attendees, which enhances the economic value of the event (Chalip & Leyns, 2002; Taks et al., 2013; Wang & Kaplanidou, 2013).

The opportunity for attendees to parade and celebrate subculture is a key to the sense of festivity, and is there- fore core to an event's appeal (Green, 2001). Green and Chalip's (1998) ethnographic account of a women's foot- ball tournament demonstrated that participants came to the event to share and affirm their identities as football players. Thus, they were motivated to travel to the event, rather than to the site, in order to socialize with other players who shared similar identities. Tournament par- ticipants who used the tournament as a social opportuni- ty focused their activities and, presumably, their spending on socializing through which they could parade and celebrate their shared identities as football players, such as drinking, shopping, dining out, and joining tours. We define spending for these activities as "social spending." This is consistent with other work showing that subcultures can organize themselves around shared forms of consumption (Algesheimer, Dholakia, & Herrmann, 2005; Yoder, 1997).

Although the literature demonstrates that events can be organized to enhance a sense of festival (Ehrenreich, 2007; Veno & Veno, 1992), the pathways by which social spending is motivated remain unidentified. Previous work has focused on social behaviors associ- ated with celebration and spending, but has not deter- mined the underlying psychological bases for spending that can support socializing at an event-that is, social spending. From the standpoint of marketing commu- nications and event design, it would be useful to understand the precursors to social spending in order to lay the necessary foundation for formulating mar- keting communications and designing event elements. So doing should enhance the event's appeal, and increase the aggregate economic impact (Green, 2001; Taks et al., 2013). The purpose of this study is to test a model of social spending at an event. The model is tested in the context of a national women's flag foot- ball tournament for which the football player identity and a sense of festival have previously been shown to be salient and intertwined (Green & Chalip, 1998).

Literature Review

Sport Subcultures and Social Motivation

Participants in a sport become socialized into sets of values and beliefs that are particular to that sport (Fine, 1987; Wheaton, 2007). They learn and internalize the language and behaviors that mark them as insiders. Their involvement in the sport's subculture can thereby affect their consumption choices (Schouten & McAlexander, 1995; Wheaton, 2000), including their preferences for sport-related travel (Green & Jones, 2005; Kim & Chalip, 2010). In order for sport events, especially those that seek participants, to become opti- mally attractive to their target markets (Green & Chalip, 1998; Veno & Veno, 1992), they need to foster social spending by attendees (Green, 2001; O'Brien, 2007). This is important because it enables the event to instantiate the sport's subculture by cultivating social- ization through which attendees can parade and cele- brate their shared involvement in the subculture (Kemp, 1999; Snelgrove & Wood, 2010). …

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