«IMPACT OF MARKET DEMAND AND GAME SUPPORT PROGRAMS ON CONSUMPTION LEVELS OF PROFESSIONAL TEAM SPORT SPECTATORS AS MEDIATED BY PERCEIVED VALUE By ...»
Researchers have attempted to identify additional variables with explanatory power on game consumption behavior, particularly those that may interact with market demand variables, game support programs, and spectator motivation variables. Perceived value (Kwon, Trail, & James, 2007; Murray & Howat, 2002) is one set of those variables that have been identified as a salient variable for spectator consumption behavior. Zeithaml (1988) defined perceived value as consumer’s overall assessment of the utility of a product (or service) based on perceptions of what is received (quality and benefit) and what is given (perceived value for the cost and nonmonetary price). Netemeyer et al. highlighted that “perceived value for the cost was considered a cornerstone of the most consumer-based-brand-equity frameworks” (p. 211). Perceived value has been found to be one of the most important variables in predicting consumption behavior (Bolton & Drew, 1991; Chang & Wildt, 1994; Dodds, Monroe, & Grewal, 1991; Zeithaml, 1988). Bolton and Drew (1991) even indicated that perceived value is a richer measure of a customer’s psychological evaluation than perception of service quality. These researchers suggested that perceived value plays a key role in connecting the perceived service quality with behavioral intentions.
Chang and Wildt found a hierarchical relationship among perceived price, perceived service quality, perceived value, and purchase intentions. Perceived value was found to be a direct antecedent of purchase intentions. Parasuraman and Grewal supported the hierarchical relationship by finding that perceived service quality directly influenced perceived service value, which in turn affected customer loyalty. In an experimental study, Dodds et al. (1991) further confirmed the hierarchical relationships among service quality, perceived value, and purchase intentions, indicating that perceived value was positively related to the willingness to buy.
Overall, considerable evidence supports the important role of perceived value as an intervening factor in the relationship between service quality and consumption behavior (Cronin, Brady, Brand, Hightower, & Shemwell, 1997).
Despite the highly recognized importance of perceived value on consumption behavior, little research attention has been devoted to examining the effect of perceived value on sport consumption (Kwon et al., 2007; Murray & Howat, 2002). Murray and Howat were among the first researchers to examine the effect of perceived value on future consumptive intentions for a leisure center. The result of a path analysis revealed that the perceived value had a direct relationship with future intentions as well as indirect relationship with the future intentions through satisfaction. Recently, Kwon et al. (2007) examined the role of perceived value on purchase intentions of team-licensed merchandise and found that perceived value played a mediating role in the relationship between team identification and purchase intentions. These two studies provided empirical support for including perceived value variables when studying sport consumption behavior. Similarly, Tsuji, Bennett, and Zhang (2007) highlighted the need for investigating the effect of perceived value when examining relationship between service quality and behavioral intentions as well as indirect relationship with the future intentions through satisfaction.
Kotler and Armstrong (1996) indicated that the cost for retaining existing customers is generally five times lower than attracting prospective customers. One area that is in great need of retaining spectators is professional sport teams, as teams have been losing their fans drastically because the marketplace has become very competitive (Mullin et al., 2007; Rein et al., 2006). It is imperative for team management and marketers to identify those variables that directly and indirectly affect game consumption (Hansen & Gauthier, 1989; Zhang et al., 1995).
Understanding what makes spectators decide to return to the game, and how they refer the game product and service received to others such as family members, friends, and community constituents is important for teams to better understand spectator consumption behavior and accordingly formulate an effective marketing mix (i.e., product, price, place, and promotion).
Findings of previous studies revealed that market demand variables and game support programs were salient variables in explaining sport spectator consumption behavior (Kwon et al., 2007; Murray & Howat, 2002; Wakefield & Blodgett, 1996; Zhang et al., 1995, 1998a, 2004b).
However, these two concepts have usually been studied independently (Cronin & Taylor, 1992;
Ko & Pastore, 2005; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1998; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995; Zhang et al., 1995, 2004c). Although previous researchers recognized the importance of market demand variables and game support programs when marketing professional sport games, only a small number of studies have examined both sets of variables simultaneously (Greenwell et al., 2002;
Tsuji et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2004c). Of those studies containing both concepts, oversimplicity was a major issue. Previous studies tended to adopt general measures derived from consumer satisfaction studies in the context of main stream business, failing to take into consideration special characteristics of professional sport events. In fact, context-specific measures have been recommended (Carman, 1990). It is critical for a research investigation to incorporate the uniqueness and special characteristics of the core product, product extensions, and market environment (Mullen et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2003b). Additionally, previous studies have revealed that only a small portion of game attendance variance (i.e., less than 50%) were explained by market demand variables and game support programs although their importance were undoubtedly confirmed by numerous researchers (Greenwell et al., 2002; Tsuji et al., 2007; Wakefield & Blodgett, 1996; Zhang et al., 1995, 1998a, 2004b). Low variance explanation may be due to the overlook of the potential influence of some mediating variables, such as perceived value, on the relationship between sport production and game consumption.
McDougall and Levesque (2000) provided a good explanation on the need to study perceived
value as an intermediate concept when conducting consumer behavior studies:
Consider the situation where customers may be “satisfied” with “what was delivered and how the service quality was delivered, but may not have felt they got their money’s worth.
If perceived value is a driver of intention and the managers exclude this measure in their model, they would attempt to improve intention through improvements in only service quality. The results of these tactics would have a minimal effect on intentions (p. 395).
Therefore, studying game product variables and perceived value simultaneously is critical to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of what influences spectators to repatronage the game and how they conduct word-of-mouth promotions. From an analytical perspective, Bagozzi (1980) argued that one reason for model misspecification in marketing research is due to omitting important variables from the model. To fill the void, the purpose of the study was to examine the structural relationship of market demand variables and game support programs to the consumption of professional team sport games while taking into consideration the mediating influence of perceived value.
Deducted from a comprehensive review of literature, this study examined the hierarchical relationship among market demand, game support, perceived value, and behavioral intentions.
This conceptual model is illustrated in Figure 1. As in a number of previous studies, market demand, game support programs, and behavioral intentions were conceptualized as multidimensional measures. More specifically, the concept of market demand was represented by six factors: Home Team, Opposing Team, Love of Professional Team Sport, Economic Consideration, Game Promotion, and Schedule Convenience (Braunstein et al., 2005; Greenstein & Marcum, 1981; Jones, 1984; Schofield, 1983; Zhang et al., 1995, 2003a). Game support programs consisted of four factors: Ticket Service, Game Amenities, Stadium Service, and Stadium Accessibility (Greenwell et al., 2002; Wakefield & Blodgett, 1996; Zhang et al., 1998a, 2004b, 2004c).
The concept of perceived value was represented by a unidimensional factor, Perceived Value for the Cost, as suggested by previous researchers (Kwon et al., 2007; McDougall & Levesque, 2000; Murray & Howat, 2002; Netemeyer et al., 2004). While acknowledging its multidimensional aspects, previous studies (i.e., Kwon et al., 2007; McDougall & Levesque, 2000; Murray & Howat, 2002; Netemeyer et al., 2004) have consistently found that the utilitarian aspect, namely Perceived Value for the Cost, was the most relevant perceived value factor that affected sport consumption behavior (Kwon et al., 2007). Furthermore, Netemeyer et al. (2004) argued that Perceived Value for the Cost was overall the best candidate for representing global perceived value measure in consumer behavior research. Kwon et al.
supported Netemeyer et al.’s notion by emphasizing that a sport consumer tended to weigh the cost versus the benefit (i.e., Perceived Value for the Cost) to determine perceived value of teamlicensed product. Thus, to be consistent with the empirical evidence, the current study adopted the unidimensional aspect (i.e., Perceived Value for the Cost) to measure perceived value.
Behavioral intentions were initially composed of two factors: Repatronage Intentions and Recommend to Others, using Söderlund (2006) and Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman’s (1996) behavioral intentions scales. The importance and relevance of repatronage have been stressed by numerous scholars (Kotler & Armstrong, 1996; Mullin et al., 2007; Rein et al., 2006). Zeithaml et al. (2006) stated that “among the most important generic behavioral intentions is willingness to recommend the service to others and repurchase intent” (p. 149).
All measurement models are presented in Figures 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, and 1-5, respectively. By following the conceptual model in Figure 1-1 and related research findings of previous studies, a structural model was proposed in the context of professional team sports, where market demand factors (core service) and game support factors (peripheral service) were hypothesized to directly influence behavioral intention factors. The market demand and game support factors were also hypothesized to indirectly affect behavioral intention factors through the perceived value factor (i.e., Perceived Value for the Cost). The structural model is presented in Figure 1-6, where market demand and game support factors were allowed to be correlated. Specifically, the
following hypotheses were tested in this study:
• Hypothesis 1: Home Team would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 2: Opposing Team would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 3: Love of Professional Sport would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 4: Economic Consideration would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 5: Game Promotion would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 6: Schedule Convenience would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 7: Game Amenities would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 8: Ticket Service would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 9: Stadium Service would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 10: Stadium Accessibility would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 11: Perceived Value for the Cost would have a direct influence on the behavioral intention factors.
• Hypothesis 12: Market demand factors would have an indirect influence on the behavioral intention factors through Perceived Value for the Cost.
• Hypothesis 13: Game support factors would have an indirect influence on the behavioral intention factors through Perceived Value for the Cost.
As market competitions increase in professional team sports, team management and marketers need to develop strategic marketing plans that are based on in-depth understanding of consumers. It is critical for them to identify those variables contributing to sport consumption and how they function together to accomplish a team’s marketing objectives. In recent studies, market demand, game support, and perceived value factors have been found to have significant effects on customer’s repatronage intentions and referral behaviors (Kwon et al., 2007; Murray & Howat, 2002; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995, Zhang et al., 1995, 2004c). However, these concepts have primarily been examined fragmentarily, making the practical implications partial and of limited usage (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Parasuraman et al., 1998; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995). This study incorporated all of these sets of constructs altogether and in the meantime; their interactive relationships were also examined. By taking into considerations the unique aspects of professional team sports and the multidimensionality of these concepts, it was expected that research findings would have a greater applicability to the marketing of professional team sport events. Many researchers suggested that greater insight would be achieved for practitioners from utilizing the multidimensional constructs (Greenwell et al., 2002; Parasuraman et al., 1988, Zhang et al., 1995).