Guest Editor's Introduction: Experimental Research in Sport Consumer Behavior

By Ko, Yong Jae; Lee, Joon Sung | Sport Marketing Quarterly, December 2018 | Go to article overview

Guest Editor's Introduction: Experimental Research in Sport Consumer Behavior


Ko, Yong Jae, Lee, Joon Sung, Sport Marketing Quarterly


Sport consumer behavior has become a popular research domain in the field of sport marketing. Over the last decade, scholars have made tremendous efforts to develop a clearer understanding of the nature of sport-related experiences, needs and wants, and the benefits sport consumers derive from such experiences (Funk, Lock, Karg, & Pritchard, 2016). Although these efforts have contributed to describing key characteristics of sport consumers, (re)defining research constructs, and exploring the relationships between key constructs in sport consumer behavior research, scholars have predominately relied on cross-sectional studies and surveys, which limit our theoretical understanding of the decision making process of sport consumers (Funk, Mahony, & Havitz, 2003; Ko et al., 2017). In their symposium discussion at the 2017 North American Society for Sport Management conference, Ko et al. discussed a need for utilizing more rigorous tactics of experimental research designs to establish causal explanations of sport consumption, and thus, develop and expand theories associated with sport consumer behavior.

In the recent special issue of Journal of Sport Management (JSM) on sport consumer behavior, Funk et al. (2016) analyzed and reported the current trend of methodological approaches published in the major journals of sport management and marketing fields (e.g., Sport Marketing Quarterly [SMQ], JSM, Sport Management Review [SMR], and European Sport Management Quarterly [ESMQ]). The analysis of 114 papers published between 2010 and 2014 revealed that only 22% of published papers used multiple stages of data collection or multiple methods. However, this JSM special issue still did not fully address the methodological gaps (i.e., survey vs. experiment) existing between sport consumer research and neighboring disciplines (e.g., psychology, consumer behavior, and communication).

In terms of experimental approach, Koschate-Fischer and Schandelmeier (2014) reported that published articles based on experimental approach have been increasing (41% in 2008 to 51% in 2011) in top-tier marketing journals (i.e., Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Marketing Science). However, Ko et al. (2017) reported that, as of April 2017, only 4.2% (n = 25) of total articles (N = 589) published in SMQ utilized experimental approach. This significant methodological gap also exists in JSM, SMR, and ESMQ. Therefore, this special issue of Experimental Research in Sport Consumer Behavior in SMQ is deemed as a necessary step to further develop the theoretical understanding of sport consumers and their consumption behaviors.

This current special issue contributes to the field of sport consumer behavior in several ways. First, it may encourage theory based sport consumer behavior research by fully utilizing unique advantages of the experimental approach in testing causal relationships in sport consumption behaviors. Theories are causal explanations that are grounded in scientific logic (Calder, Phillips, & Tybout, 1981). Compared to other research designs, experiments are the most effective to identify causal mechanisms underlying human behaviors (Calder et al., 1981). Therefore, it helps the research community increase the opportunities to develop sport-specific theories in the fields of sport consumer behavior and marketing. Second, more theory-based experimental research may enhance not only the quality of our research, but also two-way communication between scholars in sport marketing and neighboring fields (e.g., marketing, consumer behavior, and communication). This enhanced communication may increase the impact (i.e., citation) of SMQ (Funk et al., 2003; Ko, 2013). Lastly, when appropriately designed, the outcomes of experimental research provide practitioners with meaningful insights regarding their consumers and potential target markets. Given the core mission of SMQ is publishing high quality research that advances the study and practice of sport marketing, disseminating knowledge that can benefit practicing professionals with meaningful practical implications can contribute to an accomplishment of the mission. …

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