Keeping It Real or Bridging the Gap? Brand Positioning of U.S. Sport Teams in Germany and China

in Journal of Sport Management
View More View Less
  • 1 German Sport University Cologne
  • | 2 Technical University of Munich
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $87.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $116.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $166.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $221.00

Professional team sport brands are increasingly striving to conquer markets abroad. However, little is known about promising brand positioning strategies in international markets. In the context of U.S. team sport brands’ efforts to attract satellite fans in two different target markets (i.e., Germany and China), this research uses three experimental online studies to test the relative effects of two foreign brand positioning strategies (purely foreign vs. locally integrated foreign) on satellite fans’ attitudes toward the strategy and brand interaction intentions. Findings suggest that fans’ responses depend on the target market. While German fans respond more favorably to purely foreign brand positioning, Chinese fans prefer local adaptations of the U.S. brands to Chinese customs. These diverse effects can be explained by different underlying mechanisms: purely foreign brand positioning increases perceptions of authenticity among German fans, while locally integrated foreign brand positioning increases perceived customer orientation and pride among Chinese fans.

Behrens and Uhrich are with the German Sport University Cologne, Koln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Yang is with the Technical University of Munich, Munchen, Bayern, Germany.

Behrens (a.behrens@dshs-koeln.de) is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Material 1 (pdf 345 KB)
    • Supplemental Material 2 (pdf 275 KB)
  • Aaker, J.L., & Williams, P. (1998). Empathy versus pride: The influence of emotional appeals across cultures. Journal of Consumer Research, 25(3), 241261. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alden, D.L., Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M., & Batra, R. (1999). Brand positioning through advertising in Asia, North America, and Europe: The role of global consumer culture. Journal of Marketing, 63(1), 7587. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Andrijiw, A.M., & Hyatt, C.G. (2009). Using optimal distinctiveness theory to understand identification with a nonlocal professional hockey team. Journal of Sport Management, 23(2), 156181. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arbuckle, J.L. (2014). Amos (Version 23.0) [Computer Program]. Chicago: IBM SPSS.

  • Baldinger, A.L. (1996). Brand loyalty: The link between attitude and behavior. Journal of Advertising Research, 36(6), 2236.

  • Batra, R.V., Ramaswamy, D.L., Alden, J.-B., Steenkamp, E.M., & Ramachander, S. (2000). Effects of brand local/nonlocal origin on consumer attitudes in developing countries. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9(2), 8395. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BBC. (2013, February 13). Do Man Utd really have 659m supporters? BBC Sports. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21478857

  • Bellezza, S., & Keinan, A. (2014). Brand tourists: How non–core users enhance the brand image by eliciting pride. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 391417.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blank, T., & Schmidt, P. (2003). National identity in a united Germany: Nationalism or patriotism? An empirical test with representative data. Political Psychology, 24(2), 289312. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bradish, C.L., Stevens, J.A., & Lathrop, A.H. (2003). National versus regional sports marketing: An interpretation of “think globally, act locally.” International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 5(3), 3753. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brady, M.K., & Cronin, J.J. (2001). Customer orientation: Effects on customer service perceptions and outcome behaviors. Journal of Service Research, 3(3), 241251. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bruhn, M., Schoenmueller, V., & Schäfer, D.B. (2012). Are social media replacing traditional media in terms of brand equity creation? Management Research Review, 35(9), 770790. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buhmann, A. (2016). The constitution and effects of country images: Theory and measurement of a central target construct in international public relations and public diplomacy. Studies in Communication Sciences, 16(2), 182198. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chan, T.S., Cui, G., & Zhou, N. (2009). Competition between foreign and domestic brands: A study of consumer purchases in China. Journal of Global Marketing, 22(3), 181197. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chanavat, N., & Bodet, G. (2009). Internationalisation and sport branding strategy: A French perception of the Big Four brands. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 12(4), 460481. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Charlotte Magazine. (2019, October 9). How a panthers superfan discovered tailgating is “not a thing” in London. Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.charlottemagazine.com/how-a-panthers-superfan-discovered-tailgating-is-not-a-thing-in-london/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, T. (2012). From the “Taiwan Yankees” to the New York Yankees: The glocal narratives of Baseball. Sociology of Sport Journal, 29(4), 546558. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cleveland, M., Laroche, M., & Papadopoulos, N. (2015). You are what you speak? Globalization, multilingualism, consumer dispositions and consumption. Journal of Business Research, 68(3), 542552. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cui, G., & Yang, X. (2009). Responses of Chinese consumers to sex appeals in international advertising: A test of congruency theory. Journal of Global Marketing, 22(3), 229245. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dallas Mavericks. (2018, January 3). Dallas Mavericks announce new official Chinese name. Dallas Mavericks. Retrieved from https://www.mavs.com/dallas-mavericks-announce-new-official-chinese-name/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Mooij, M., & Hofstede, G. (2010). The Hofstede model. International Journal of Advertising, 29(1), 85110. doi:

  • De Waal, A., & van der Heijden, B. (2016). Increasing customer loyalty and customer intimacy by improving the behavior of employees. Journal of Strategy and Management, 9(4), 492510. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Decrop, A., & Derbaix, C. (2009). Pride in contemporary sport consumption: A marketing perspective. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38(5), 586603. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Delgado-Ballester, E., Navarro, A., & Sicilia, M. (2012). Revitalising brands through communication messages: The role of brand familiarity. European Journal of Marketing, 46(1/2), 3151.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dong, L., & Tian, K. (2009). The use of Western brands in asserting Chinese national identity. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(3), 504523. doi:

  • EF. (2020, January 25). The world’s largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills. EF. Retrieved from https://www.ef.com/wwen/epi/ESPN

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ESPN. (2017). Real Madrid remove cross from club crest in Middle Eastern clothing deal. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/soccer/real-madrid/story/3045880/real-madrid-remove-cross-from-club-crest-in-middle-eastern-clothing-deal

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fairley, S., & Kellet, P. (2013). Branding and positioning Australian rules football for participation growth in North America. Sport Management Review, 16(3), 397406. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FC Barcelona. (2019, February 5). First team player shirts with names in Chinse for El Clássico. FC Barcelona. Retrieved from https://www.fcbarcelona.com/en/photos/1048513/first-team-player-shirts-with-names-in-chinese-for-el-clasico

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forbes. (2018, July 18). The world’s 50 most valuable sports teams of 2018. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2018/07/18/full-list-the-worlds-50-most-valuable-sports-teams-of-2018/#6440132e6b0e/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forbes. (2019, March 4). Inside the NBA’s push to make basketball the world’s most popular sport. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shlomosprung/2019/03/04/nba-china-ceo-derek-chang-takes-us-inside-nbas-push-to-make-basketball-worlds-most-popular-sport/#3b7fecf51b02

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gladden, J.M., & Funk, D.C. (2001). Understanding brand loyalty in professional sport: Examining the link between brand associations and brand loyalty. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 3(1), 6794.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Global Web Index. (2018, September 15). Countries with the most NFL fans outside the US. Global Web Index. Retrieved from https://www.americanfootballinternational.com/countries-with-the-biggest-nfl-fan-bases

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guo, X., Zhang, Y., & Hong, Y. (2014). How do consumers from developed regions evaluate global brands from emerging countries? The influence of consumer global-local identity. Journal of Marketing Science, 10(1), 5266.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guzmán, F., & Paswan, A.K. (2009). Cultural brands from emerging markets: Brand image across host and home countries. Journal of International Marketing, 17(3), 7186. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Han, C.M., & Won, S.B. (2018). Cross‐country differences in consumer cosmopolitanism and ethnocentrism: A multilevel analysis with 21 countries. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 17(1), 5266.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Han, Y.J., Nunes, J.C., & Drèze, X. (2010). Signaling status with luxury goods: The role of brand prominence. Journal of Marketing, 74(4), 1530. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hayes, A.F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holt, D.B. (2002). Why do brands cause trouble? A dialectical theory of consumer culture and branding. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(1), 7090. doi:

  • Hyatt, C., Kerwin, S., Hoeber, L., & Sveinson, K. (2018). The reverse socialization of sport fans: How children impact their parents’ sport fandom. Journal of Sport Management, 32(6), 542554. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Katz, M., Baker, T.A., & Du, H. (2020). Team identity, supporter club identity, and fan relationships: A brand community network analysis of a soccer supporters club. Journal of Sport Management, 34(1), 921. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaynak, E., Salman, G.& Tatoglu, E. (2008). An integrative framework linking brand associations and brand loyalty in professional sports. Journal of Brand Management, 15(5), 336. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kerr, A.K., & Emery, P.R. (2011). The allure of an “overseas sweetheart”: A Liverpool FC brand community. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 9(3–4), 201219. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kerr, A.K., & Gladden, J.M. (2008). Extending the understanding of professional team brand equity to the global marketplace. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 3(1-2), 5877. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kim, C., & Heere, B. (2012). Consumers from emerging markets: perceptions and attitudes toward global sporting brands. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 21(1), 1932.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kipnis, E., Kubacki, K., Broderick, A.J., Siemieniako, D., & Pisarenko, N.L. (2012). “They don’t want us to become them”: Brand local integration and consumer ethnocentrism. Journal of Marketing Management, 28(7–8), 836864. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kobayashi, K. (2012). Corporate nationalism and glocalization of Nike advertising in “Asia”: Production and representation practices of cultural intermediaries. Sociology of Sport Journal, 29(1), 4261. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kunkel, T., Funk, D.C., & King, C. (2009). Consumer based brand associations for professional football leagues. Proceedings of the ANZMAC Conference 2009. Melbourne, Australia.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, J.K., Ahn, T., & Lee, K.Y. (2016). Exploring the impact of country-of-origin fit and team identification in sports brand evaluation. European Sport Management Quarterly, 16(4), 413432. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, B., Dittmore, S.W., Scott, O.K.M., Lo, W.-J., & Stokowski, S. (2019). Why we follow: Examining motivational differences in following sport organizations on Twitter and Weibo. Sport Management Review, 22(3), 335347. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, J., Zhang, X.A., & Sun, G. (2015). Effects of “face” consciousness on status consumption among Chinese consumers: Perceived social value as a mediator. Psychological Reports, 116(1), 280291. PubMed ID: 25565418 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Loken, B., & John, D.R. (1993). Diluting brand beliefs: When do brand extensions have a negative impact? Journal of Marketing, 57(3), 7184. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maderer, D., Parganas, P., & Anagnostopoulos, C. (2018). Brand-image communication through social media: The case of European professional football clubs. International Journal of Sport Communication, 11(3), 319338. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S.A., & Sirianni, N.J. (2019). Beyond country image favorability: How brand positioning via country personality stereotypes enhances brand evaluations. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(3), 318338. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marca. (2018, October 25). Barcelona reveal message for Clasico mosaic: We colour football. Marca online. Retrieved from https://www.marca.com/en/football/barcelona/2018/10/25/5bd21192ca4741b3108b4633.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mazodier, M., Henderson, C.M., & Beck, J.T. (2018). The long reach of sponsorship: How fan isolation and identification jointly shape sponsorship performance. Journal of Marketing, 82(6), 2848. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merrilees, B., Getz, D., & O’Brien, D. (2005). Marketing stakeholder analysis: Branding the Brisbane Goodwill Games. European Journal of Marketing, 39(9), 10601077. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Monga, A.B., & Roedder John, D. (2010). What makes brands elastic? The influence of brand concept and styles of thinking on brand extension evaluation. Journal of Marketing, 74(3), 8092. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Napoli, J., Dickinson, S.J., Beverland, M.B., & Farrelly, F. (2014). Measuring consumer-based brand authenticity. Journal of Business Research, 67(6), 10901098. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NBC. (2018, February 15). To attract new fans, NBA turns to Lunar New Year and Bollywood. NBC Sports. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/attract-new-fans-nba-turns-lunar-new-year-bollywood-n848026

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Newsweek. (2019, November 4). Will London get an NFL team? “Nothing stopping us” setting up U.K. franchise, says league. Newsweek online. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/nfl-london-team-games-franchise-relocate-1469458

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NFL Shop. (2020, February 4). Jacksonville Jaguars Nike Union Jack T-Shirt Grey. NFL Shop Europe. Retrieved from https://europe.nflshop.com/Stores/nfl/en/product/jacksonville-jaguars-nike-union-jack-t-shirt-grey/156300

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nijssen, E.J., & Douglas, S.P. (2011). Consumer world-mindedness and attitudes toward product positioning in advertising: An examination of global versus foreign versus local positioning. Journal of International Marketing, 19(3), 113133. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oppenheimer, D.M., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: Detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 867872. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Özsomer, A. (2012). The interplay between global and local brands: A closer look at perceived brand globalness and local iconness. Journal of International Marketing, 20(2), 7295. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reed, A., Forehand, M.R., Puntoni, S., & Warlop, L. (2012). Identity-based consumer behavior. Journal of Research in Marketing, 29(4). 310321. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richelieu, A. (2016). Sport teams’ brands going international: The “integrated marketing strategy on the itnternationalisation in Sport (IMSIS).” Journal of Brand Strategy, 5(2), 218231.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schivinski, B., Christodoulides, G., & Dabrowski, D. (2016). Measuring consumers’ engagement with brand-related social-media content: Development and validation of a scale that identifies levels of social-media engagement with brands. Journal of Advertising Research, 56(1), 6480. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simmons, C.J., & Becker-Olsen, K.L. (2006). Achieving marketing objectives through social sponsorships. Journal of Marketing, 70(4), 154169. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sjödin, H., & Törn, F. (2006). When communication challenges brand associations: A framework for understanding consumer responses to brand image incongruity. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 5, 3242. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M. (2019). Global versus local consumer culture: Theory, measurement, and future research directions. Journal of International Marketing, 27(2), 119. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Torelli, C.J., & Ahluwalia, R. (2012). Culturally symbolic brands: A blessing or a curse? Journal of Consumer Research, 38(5), 933947. doi:

  • Uhrich, S., Behrens, A., Kang, T.-A., Matsuoka, H., & Uhlendorf, K. (2020). Segmenting satellite supporters based on their value for team sport organizations. Journal of Global Sport Management. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vrontis, D., Thrassou, A., & Lamprianou, I. (2009). International marketing adaptation versus standardisation of multinational companies. International Marketing Review, 26(4), 477500. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walsh, P., & Ross, S.D. (2010). Examining brand extensions and their potential to dilute team brand associations. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 19(4), 196207.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, X., & Yang, Z. (2011). Standardization or adaption in international advertising strategies: The roles of brand personality and country-of-origin image. Asian Journal of Business Research, 1(2), 2536. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wann, D.L., & Branscombe, N.R. (1993). Sports fans: Measuring degree of identification with their team. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24(1), 117.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Westjohn, S.A., Singh, N., & Magnusson, P. (2012). Responsiveness to global and local consumer culture positioning: A personality and collective identity perspective. Journal of International Marketing, 20(1), 5873. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wiedmann, K.P., Hennigs, N., Schmidt, S., & Wuestefeld, T. (2011). The importance of brand heritage as a key performance driver in marketing management. Journal of Brand Management, 19(3), 182194. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whitelock, J., & Fastoso, F. (2007). Understanding international branding: Defining the domain and reviewing the literature. International Marketing Review, 24(3), 252270. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wolter, J.S., Bock, D., Smith, J.S., & Cronin, J.J. (2017). Creating ultimate customer loyalty through loyalty conviction and customer-company identification. Journal of Retailing, 93(4), 458476. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Woods, R. (2004). Exploring the emotional territory for brands. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 3(4), 388403. doi:

  • Xue, H., Daniel S., & Mason, D.S. (2016). Framing foreignness: A case study of Chinese media coverage of the NBA’s arena development in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science, 5(3), 215243. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhou, L., Wang, J.J., Chen, X., Lei, C., Zhang, J.J., & Meng, X. (2017). The development of NBA in China: A glocalization perspective. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 18(1), 8194. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhou, N., & Belk, R. (2004). Chinese consumer readings of global and local advertising appeals. Journal of Advertising, 33(3), 6376. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 150 150 78
Full Text Views 16 16 5
PDF Downloads 18 18 6