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The importance of team brand associations in sport management research is well documented, but the formation and stability of these associations has not been investigated. The current research tested the development, change, and predictive ability of brand associations over time. Longitudinal quantitative data were collected from consumers of a new Australian Football League (AFL) team (N = 169) at 3 points in time. One-sample t-tests revealed that brand associations had developed through marketing communications and the launch of the team before the team had played its first AFL game. Repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance and latent growth modeling showed that brand associations changed over time, reflecting consumers’ experiences with the team. A cross-lagged panel model highlighted that brand associations influenced consumer loyalty in the future. Consequently, sport managers are provided with insights on the development of and change in brand associations that new consumers link with sport teams.
Thilo Kunkel, Daniel C. Funk, and James Du are with the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Jason P. Doyle is with the Department of Tourism, Sport, and Hotel Management, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Heath McDonald is with the Faculty of Business & Enterprise, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia.