Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

The Impact of Service Quality and Sport-Team Identification on the Repurchase Intention/utjecaj Kvalitete Uspluge I Identifikacija Sa Sportskim Timom Na Namjeru Ponovne Kupnje

Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

The Impact of Service Quality and Sport-Team Identification on the Repurchase Intention/utjecaj Kvalitete Uspluge I Identifikacija Sa Sportskim Timom Na Namjeru Ponovne Kupnje

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Sport has become a big business with many stakeholders involved including fans, players, clubs, leagues, governing bodies, players' associations and agents, gamblers, rights owners, sports equipment manufacturers, broadcasters, sponsors of players, clubs, leagues, events, etc. In the last twenty years, most major sports have reached the professional stage in their development and have been going through a fierce commercialization process since external sponsors and broadcasters have been investing large sums of money in them.

Football is the most popular sport in the world and also the sport attracting the largest investments. In 2012/2013, the overall size of the European football market was euro19.9 billion (Sports Business Group, 2014) and it is, therefore, not surprising that the business of football has received increased research interest of academics in the last several years.

Although sponsorships and sales of club merchandise bring in substantial revenue to the clubs, most of the revenue is still generated by single-game and season ticket sales (Theodorakis et al., 2009). It is evident that there is an increasing need to better understand the fans' wishes and needs in order to maximize the revenues. Given a large number of European countries, football differs from country to country in both cultural and traditional senses (Barthold, 2009). These differences are particularly noticeable in the football match attendance, revenues and finally the results on the continental level. Therefore, when analysing football as a sporting event in different countries it is necessary to bear in mind the cultural environment.

Generally, the key success factor of service companies attempting to increase sales revenue is service quality as it leads to increased customer or fan loyalty and ultimately higher profits for organizations (Theodorakis and Alexandris, 2008). While it has been proved that service quality and customer loyalty are directly and positively related, the same has not yet been proved for sport as an industry (Theodorakis and Alexandris, 2008). The authors note that these differences are explained by the following variables previously documented in the literature: team identification (Robinson, 2005; Trail, 2004), fan motivation (Mahony, 2002; Robinson, 2004), involvement (Funk, 2002; Funk, 2004), and brand associations (Boyle and Magnusson, 2007; Ross, 2007). Fans are a big challenge to marketers (Boyle and Magnusson, 2007), but the great unknown is still what affects their loyalty. The success of a team has an important impact on fans. However, the team's positive sports results only partly influence fans' behaviour but not enough to declare this mystery solved. Other drivers of fan loyalty are: history and tradition (35%), fan bonding (28%), pure entertainment (20%), authenticity (17%) (Forbes, 2013).

It is necessary to segment fans into more homogeneous groups as it will improve our understanding of fans as customers. Segmentation leads to a better perception of the differences between groups of fans, gives us the possibility to achieve better and higher quality communication with certain groups of fans, all of which ultimately have a positive effect on the financial side of the club's business. Wann and Branscombe (1993) segmented fans into three groups (hard-core, average and casual) according to the level of their team identification and stated that through team identification an individual forms a psychological connection with the team.

The main contribution of this paper is that it highlights the profound importance of understanding fans and their needs better. Football fans of in the Republic of Croatia are the generators of both sport and financial success of their clubs, but have, as such, not yet received the necessary attention. Therefore, this survey attempts to give an insight into the importance of understanding and respecting the needs of fans who are both stakeholders of the success of individual clubs and of football in general. …

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