The role of brand associations and team identity in the sport management literature has received significant attention; however, there exists opportunities to investigate the way they impact one another over time. The authors examined the development of brand associations and team identification among fans of a new team to measure the impact the team’s brand held in the development of new fans. Longitudinal quantitative data were collected from fans of a new professional baseball team (N = 119) across three points during the team’s inaugural season. Using multilevel growth curve modeling, unconditional growth curve models provided evidence of the development and change of brand associations and team identification, while conditional growth curve models evaluated the percentage of change in team identity explained by the changes in each brand association. The findings provide evidence of brand associations as drivers in the development of team identification among fans of a new team.
Matthew Katz and Bob Heere
The authors examined the longitudinal development of team identification among stakeholders of a newly formed intercollegiate football team to empirically measure the impact of a new football team on university identification. Using a multidimensional approach to identification, data were collected over a 3-year period and analyzed using growth curve analysis to determine the changes and trajectories of the individual dimensions of identification related to both the new football team and the larger university. Conditional growth models were used to determine the percentage of change in university identification explained by changes in team identification—to test whether new team identification drives identification with the larger university. The presented findings allow for an improved understanding of the psychological impact of a new football team for the university community by using growth curve analysis, which provides a more detailed and accurate empirical examination of identification, rather than traditional two-wave cross-lagged designs. Implications of the longitudinal nature of identification and the psychological value of a new football team for the university are discussed.
Bob Heere and Geoff Dickson
Current marketing research on attitudinal constructs such as commitment and loyalty is characterized by conceptual confusion and overlap. This study aims to improve the clarity of these terms by separating the commitment and loyalty constructs. It also provides a new scale for measurement of team loyalty. Commitment is a construct that is cross-sectional in nature and is internal to the individual. Alternatively, loyalty is longitudinal in nature and should be regarded as the result of interaction between negative external changes in the environment and the individual’s internal level of commitment. The proposed scale has its origins with the Psychological Commitment to Team scale. Our revisions to the scale provide the needed longitudinal dimension. The new Attitudinal Loyalty to Team Scale (ALTS), which has resistance to change as a central feature, demonstrates both reliability and validity.
Matthew Katz and Bob Heere
The authors explore the formation of a new brand community to increase our understanding of the development of particular social networks within this overall new community. An ethnographic study was conducted among four tailgating groups of a new college team during its inaugural season. The method was chosen to gain insight into how individual consumers interacted with each other and how these early interactions contributed to the development of a brand community. To examine these interactions, social network theory was used to examine the relationships between the individuals within a larger group setting. Adopting this theoretical approach allowed the authors to observe that newly created groups follow the principles of scale-free networks, where some consumers act as leaders and others as followers. The implications for both highly committed leaders and noncommittal followers within each social network are discussed.
Bob Heere and Jeffrey D. James
Group identity theory suggests that fans of sports teams see themselves as members of an organization, not just consumers of a product. To foster greater loyalty toward a sports team, managers should concentrate on strengthening fans’ team identity. One way to accomplish this goal is to recognize that a team identity is more than an association with a collection of athletes and coaches or an association with other fans. A team identity can also be symbolic of other types of group identities. Two main types of external group identities are demographic categories and membership organizations. Identifying the external group identities that a sports team is believed to represent and then aligning more closely with key external group identities provides managers with an opportunity to strengthen fans’ team identity and, consequently, their loyalty to a team.
Masayuki Yoshida, Bob Heere, and Brian Gordon
A consumer’s loyalty to a specific sport team is longitudinal in nature. This longitudinal study examines the effects of consumers’ attitudinal constructs (team identification, associated attachment points, consumer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions) on behavioral loyalty in the context of a professional soccer event. To test the proposed relationships, the authors assess the impact of consumers’ self-reported measures (Time 1) on actual attendance frequency in the first half (Time 2) and the second half (Time 3) of the season. The results indicate that fan community attachment is the only construct that can predict attendance frequency over a longer period of time while team identification, satisfaction and behavioral intentions are not significant predictors of attendance frequency throughout the season. The theoretical model and results reinforce the importance of fan community attachment toward longitudinal attendance frequency and add new insights into the predictive validity of some of the attitudinal marketing measures in the field of sport management.
Matthew Katz, Bob Heere, and E. Nicole Melton
The purpose of this study is to utilize egocentric network analysis to predict repurchase behaviors for college football season-ticket holders. Using a research approach grounded in network theory, we included the relational and behavioral characteristics of sport fans in a binomial regression model to predict renewal decisions among college football season-ticket holders. More specifically, we developed a model that incorporates the egocentric network variables, past behavior, and behavioral intentions to empirically test which consumer characteristics predict future behavior. Building on previous research emphasizing the role of socializing agents and social connections in sport fan consumption, through the use of egocentric network analysis, we examined the effects of social structure and social context on repurchasing decisions. Moreover, the present study is positioned within the larger discourse on season-ticket holders, as we aimed to add a network theory perspective to the existing research on season-ticket holder churn and renewal.
Jules Woolf, Bob Heere, and Matthew Walker
Given the ubiquity of charitable organizations and the events used to solicit donations for a cause, many charity-based organizations are continually looking for ways to expand their fundraising efforts. In this quest, many have added endurance sport events to their fundraising portfolios. Anecdotally, we know that building long-term and meaningful relationships with current (and potential) donors is critical for a nonprofit organization’s success. However, there is a paucity of research regarding whether these charity sport events serve as relationship-building mechanisms (i.e., ‘brandfests’) to assist in developing attachments to the charity. The purpose of this mixed-methods investigation was to explore to what extent a charity sport event served as a brandfest to foster a sense of identity with the charity. For this particular case study, the charity event had little effect on participants’ relationship with the charity.
Yongjin Hwang, Khalid Ballouli, Kevin So, and Bob Heere
The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of sport video game difficulty and brand congruity on gamers’ brand recall, brand recognition, and attitudes toward the brand using a controlled experimental design. A total of 116 participants were recruited to play an interactive sport video game and randomly assigned to one of two game difficulty conditions (easy vs. hard). They were then asked to respond to questions concerning the brands featured in the in-game advertisements. The procedure entailed a pretest survey, main experiment, and posttest survey. Data analysis was conducted through use of McNemar’s test, repeated measures analysis of covariance, and binary logistic regression. Findings revealed significant effects for game difficulty and brand congruity on brand recognition (but not brand recall) and attitudes toward the brand. This study contributes to the growing body of literature that suggests video game settings and brand placement are key considerations for achieving desired advertising results.
Bob Heere, Jeffrey James, Masayuki Yoshida, and Glaucio Scremin
The primary purpose of this study was to assess the proposition that identification with a university, city and/ or state could affect an individual’s identification process with a sport team (Heere & James, 2007a). The team identity scale was modified and used to measure multiple group identities. A secondary purpose was to provide further evidence of the reliability and validity of the multidimensional group identity instrument. The results provide some evidence that the group identity instrument is reliable and valid in four settings: team, university, city, and state. For this particular sample, team identity was positively influenced by the associated group identities. The findings support the use of a group identity scale to test different group identities and support the proposition that identification with a focal group such as a sport team does not exist in a vacuum and may be influenced by an individual’s relationship with other groups.