Handbook of Research on Sport and Business
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Handbook of Research on Sport and Business

Edited by Sten Söderman and Harald Dolles

This Handbook draws together top international researchers and discusses the state of the art and the future direction of research at the nexus between sport and business. It is heavily built upon choosing, applying and evaluating appropriate quantitative as well as qualitative research methods for practical advice in sport and business research.
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Chapter 23: A review of fan identity and its influence on sport sponsorship effectiveness

Torsten Schlesinger


Sport fans – as opposed to sport spectators – have a high emotional solidarity and an abiding interest in their sport team or club. Therefore, they are often characterized by loyal consumer behaviour toward product of their club (for example, tickets, merchandising products). Fans consume their sport clubs’ products on a regular basis admitting that price and quality only play a secondary role. It is therefore inconceivable that fans with high emotional solidarity are likely to change to another club only because tickets are cheaper, the stadium is nicer or there is a wider range of merchandising products offered. Even the attractiveness of the athletic performance or the success of a team/ club does influence the fans’ loyalty only insignificantly. Indeed, sport fans are a highly attractive target group for marketers of sport clubs. However, it could not be clarified so far if this is only the case for products connected directly with the club or if these effects are also related to offers indirectly associated with the club. This especially concerns the products of club or team sponsors. Companies hope that the passion fans feel toward a sport team or club are transferred to or ‘rub off’ on their brand (Madrigal, 2004). The results of market research indicate the potential of top sport sponsorship in increasing awareness of brands (Johan and Pham, 1999; Lardinoit and Derbaix, 2001; Rifon et al., 2004; Speed and Thompson, 2000).

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