The empirical validation of the sport brand love model in professional sports
Tavormina, Alyssa Lindsey
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Love is the highest form of attachment (Bowlby, 1979; Sternberg, 1987; Thompson, MacInnis, & Park, 2005) that consumers have towards brands, and it is integral to the success of organizations today. Sports boast of millions of raving consumers and may be one of the industries in which brand love is most evident; however, the multiple general marketing studies that were conducted on the brand love of traditional products (Albert, Merunka, & Valette-Florence, 2008; Batra, Ahuvia, & Bagozzi, 2012; Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006) were not directly applicable to sport. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to empirically validate the sport brand love model to allow sport managers a better understanding of sport brand love. Using consumers from the major professional sport teams in a large metropolitan area of the U.S., participants (N = 635) were surveyed using the sport brand love questionnaire developed in this study. The sample was split into two independent samples so the results could be cross-validated. The measurement model of the calibration sample and holdout sample had reasonably good fit, reliability, and validity considering the complexity of the model, and the structural model of both samples also had reasonably good fit. While the path coefficients for the samples were different, the subsequent multi-sample path analysis of the three teams provided an explanation for these differences. In the NBA and NFL group, “Team Nostalgia” was the only statistically significant (p < .05) antecedent, and “Perceived High Quality,” “Team Uniqueness,” and “Team Nostalgia” were statistically significant (p < .05) antecedents for the MLB group. The six consequences of sport brand love were statistically significant (p < .05) for all teams. Furthermore, the multi-group path analysis on gender indicated that “Team Nostalgia” was the only antecedent that was statistically significant (p < .05) for the female group, and “Perceived High Quality,” “Team Uniqueness,” and “Team Nostalgia” were statistically significant (p < .05) for the male group. However, gender was not a significant moderating variable when the individual teams were examined. These results indicate that sport marketers must understand sport brand love and create strategic marketing plans according to the type of sport.