This project revisits the social identity–brand equity (SIBE) model developed by Underwood, Bond, and Baer (2001). The model proposes that marketplace characteristics relevant to sports can be used to enhance one’s social identification with a team, which is assumed to have a positive influence on a team’s customer-based brand equity. The current study has two goals: (a) to provide an empirical assessment of the SIBE model in the context of professional sports and (b) assess the individual influence of the proposed marketplace characteristics on social identification. We report results of a survey of U.S. National Basketball Association fans, which provide partial support for the model. Group experience and venue were found to have the strongest influence on social identification with a team. Considerations for theoretical advancement of the model and practical application for sport brand managers are discussed.
Brett A. Boyle and Peter Magnusson
The authors empirically tested Underwood, Bond, and Baer’s (2001) social identity–brand equity (SIBE) model in the context of fans of a university men’s basketball team. Their model proposes that service marketplace characteristics (venue, team history, rituals, and social groups) enhance one’s social identity to a team. This heightened social identity, in turn, is seen to build brand equity of the team brand. Using the SIBE model as a conceptual framework, a comparative study was conducted across 3 distinct fan groups of the team: current students, alumni, and the general public. Results provide strong support for the effect of social identity on brand equity; regardless of the type of fan, a heightened social identity to the team enhanced the perceived equity of the athletic program (i.e., brand) overall. How social identity was formed, however, differed by fan group. For example, team history showed a significant relationship to social identity for alumni and the general public. Students were most influenced by their sense of the basketball program being part of the local community as a whole. These finding are valuable in knowing how to craft marketing communications for various fan constituencies, as well as understanding how identification to 1 team might be leveraged across all sports in a collegiate athletic program.