Academic journal article Advances in Management

Influence of Spectator Motivation and Team Identification on Team Loyalty and Switching Intentions of Sports Fans

Academic journal article Advances in Management

Influence of Spectator Motivation and Team Identification on Team Loyalty and Switching Intentions of Sports Fans

Article excerpt


As the sports industry continues to flourish around the world, sports marketing has become indispensable. Fans of spectator sports often become loyal customers. Loyalty towards a team brand can ensure stable market income and can promote the marketing of sports peripheral goods. Thus, professional knowledge and skills in marketing are requirements for a successful leader in the modern sports industry. An individual's motivation to watch sports varies with his or her lifestyle. Spectators watch games due to the uncertainty of their results, entertainment effects that exceed the competition level, the skill displayed by the players, the joy shared by the winners, or other reasons19.

A further exploration of the literature indicates that spectators or fans watch games for a variety of reasons1,10,13,47. These motives, which vary from person to person, are associated with personal needs such as escape, pressure relief, and entertainment value. These motives may be social, in that they strengthen family ties or group relationships; some are related to psychological needs such as self-esteem, self-realization, and value development; other motives concern the basic needs for sports appreciation such as sports knowledge, sports aesthetics and a sense of accomplishment32,45. Correia and Esteves6 divided spectator motives into five categories: material reasons, team affiliation, extras and facilities, star players, and entertainment.

With these varying motives, researchers have suggested that understanding consumption behavior in spectator sports stems from knowledge of the spectator or fan's sense of identity44,46. Researchers have also posited that team identification is one of the primary factors influencing the purchase intention of fans27.

Donahay and Rosenberger8 discovered that team identification exerts a positive influence on a fan's loyalty toward a team, their satisfaction while watching a game, and their willingness to watch future games; it also increases the brand awareness of sponsors, inducing fans to have positive attitudes and greater satisfaction towards the sponsors' products.

In a study on the fans of Japan's professional soccer teams, Matsuoka, Chelladurai and Harada28 observed that the fans' sense of identity with the team and their satisfaction in games influenced their re-purchase intention with the former exerting a greater impact. Kwon, Trail and James27 indicated that fans who have a strong sense of identity with the team they support also perceive greater value in team merchandise. Fisher and Wakefield11 regarded team identification as an individual's commitment and emotional involvement toward a sports organization; in other words, when an individual is asked to describe who they are, they consider themselves to be associated with the sports, such as baseball fans or basketball fans.

Gwinner and Swanson16 found that when sports fans perceive a connection to a team, it creates team identification. Sutton, McDonald, Milne, and Cimperman42 further discovered that fans with strong team identification are more willing to purchase the peripheral goods provided by the team, watch games in person, and even offer strong support when the team is in a slump. Many researchers think of team identification as the personal commitment and emotions that individuals invest in a sports organization, including mental and behavioral identification.4-30-42

These studies indicate that team identification is a crucial factor for fan participation in games. This study holds that when sports fans have a strong sense of identity with a team, they regard the wins and losses of the team as their own and this strong sense of association is the primary force behind their willingness to get involved in games. Thus, it is vital to understand team identification when marketers are attempting to turn the audience into fans and encourage their willingness to watch games.

Past customers are the most significant strategic resources of an enterprise. …

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