Sport Spectator Segmentation: Examining the Differing Psychological Connections Amongst Spectators of Leagues and Teams
34 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2016
Date Written: May 1, 2013
This research broadens the understanding of sport spectator segmentation by providing evidence of validity for a segmentation tool which groups sport spectators into stages of increasing psychological connections. Specifically, this research included the Psychological Continuum Model (PCM) (Funk & James, 2001; 2006) and the involvement based PCM segmentation process (Beaton, Funk & Alexandris, 2009) as a basis to understand the subset of consumers that exist amongst sport spectator populations. The PCM has been acclaimed and used in various sport, leisure and tourism research streams to understand the psychological connections consumers develop with various sport and leisure objects (Beaton et al, 2009; Beaton, Funk, Ridinger & Jordan, 2011; Funk, Beaton & Pritchard, 2011; Filo, Chen, King & Funk, 2011). Though the PCM is widely employed as a theoretical framework, to date, the related segmentation procedure has only been empirically validated on sport participants. Further validation is needed as the PCM was developed to be appropriate for a wide range of applications in sport and leisure, including sport spectator segmentation (Funk & James, 2001). This paper therefore extends previous research by empirically testing the involvement-based segmentation procedure on sport spectators.
Data were collected using two online studies which focused on consumers at both the league and team level. This decision was made as spectators may follow a specific league without focusing on one particular team, and vice versa (Branscombe & Wann, 1991), and to increase the generalisability of results. Study 1 focused on spectators (N = 761) of Australia’s two most popular football leagues, the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Australian Football League (AFL). Study 2 utilised spectators with links to teams within either of these codes (N = 623). Both studies collected data assessing the respondents’ involvement with the sport organisation, attitudes towards the organisation and behaviour exhibited towards supporting the organisation. Data analyses explored the subset of consumers that existed within each sample as well as their reported differences in terms of attitudes and behaviours.
For both samples, the established three-step PCM segmentation procedure (Beaton et al, 2009) placed respondents into the defined PCM stages of Awareness, Attraction, Attachment and Allegiance. ANOVA with Games-Howell post-hoc tests indicated the four groups were significantly different from one another on attitudinal and behavioural measures. Specifically, the likelihood of an individual possessing durable positive attitudes and displaying behaviours supportive of their chosen sport organisation increased in line with the PCM hierarchy (i.e., from awareness to attraction, from attraction to attachment and from attachment to allegiance). Findings support the theoretical perspective offered by the PCM and its proposed stages of fan development. Findings also provide preliminary evidence the segmentation tool is appropriate for use with spectator samples, and can help sport marketers better understand their diverse consumer bases. After segmenting spectators into the PCM stages, sport marketers can develop targeted marketing campaigns with the specific wants and needs of each group in mind. Efforts geared at satisfying each spectator segment and moving spectators onto the next level of psychological connection should be embraced by sport marketers at both the league and team level.
Keywords: sport spectator segmentation, sport fans, psychological continuum model, PCM
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