«IMPACT OF MARKET DEMAND AND GAME SUPPORT PROGRAMS ON CONSUMPTION LEVELS OF PROFESSIONAL TEAM SPORT SPECTATORS AS MEDIATED BY PERCEIVED VALUE By ...»
In order to enhance sport spectators’ consumption behavior, it is imperative for sport marketers to identify key influencing factors. Extant literature has reported several key antecedents of spectator behavioral intentions such as market demand (core service), game support programs (peripheral service) (Tsuji et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2004c; Zhang et al., 1995;
Zhang et al., 1998a), and perceived value (Kwon et al., 2007; Murray & Howat, 2002). In the following sections, a literature review on general service quality, market demand, game support programs, and perceived value as they relate to marketing, consumer research, and spectator sport will be presented.
Today’s sport organizations face increasing competition for gaining market share. In an empirical study, Zhang et al. (1997b) found that substitute forms of other entertainment had considerably negative influences on game attendance for minor league hockey games. Thus, retaining existing consumers rather than attracting new consumers seems more imperative for the financial stability of sport organizations. Indeed, research has shown that retaining consumers is approximately five times less expensive for a service business than attracting prospective consumers (Kotler & Armstrong, 1996). Therefore, it is important for sport organizations to understand the underlying causes and antecedents of variables that may influence repatronage intentions (e.g., game attendance) (Hansen & Gauthier, 1989; Zhang et al., 1995). The perception of service quality has been identified as one of the most salient variables that may affect not only customer retention but also attraction in the marketing literature (Brady & Cronin, 2001; Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Grönroos, 1984; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985; Parasuraman et al., 1988). The service quality construct has been widely utilized in other contexts including hospitality (Choi & Chu, 2001); fitness, leisure, and recreation services (Alexandris, Grouios, Tsorbatzoudis, & Bliatsou, 2001; Chelladurai & Chang, 2000; Hill & Green, 2000; Kim & Kim, 1995; Ko & Pastore, 2005; Lam, Zhang, & Jansen, 2005; Murray & Howat, 2002), and spectator services (Greenwell et al., 2002; Tsuji et al., 2007; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995; Wakefield et al., 1996; Zhang et al., 1998a, 2004b, 2004c, 2005b). Some of the identified consequences derived from good service quality include customer loyalty (Petrick & Backman, 2001), repatronage intentions (Wakefield et al., 1996), word-of-mouth (Wakefield & Boldgett, 1999), and satisfaction (McDougall, & Levesque, 2000; Tsuji et al., 2007), which in turn, help generate long-term profitability of an organization.
Definition of Service Quality According to Kotler & Armstrong (1996) a service is defined as “any act or performance one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything” (p. 455). The above definition implies an important distinction between a service and a product. A service deals with intangibility, which consumers cannot see or feel before the consumption stage. In addition to the distinguishing aspect of intangibility a service is also inseparable, perishable, and variable (Bitran & Hoech, 1990; Kotler & Armstrong, 1996; Sasser, Olsen, & Wyckoff, 1978). Therefore, service quality can only be measured by an individual’s perceptions toward a service received (Parasuraman et al., 1985), whereas tangible products can be more objectively measured based on their qualities, such as toughness, durability, or defects (Crosby, 1979).
In service marketing, the term ‘service quality’ has been more frequently used than a general term ‘service’ when it comes to assessing the ‘service’ from the consumer’s perspective (Parasuraman et al., 1988; Zeithaml et al., 1996). Based on the confirmation-disconfirmation paradigm (Oliver, 1980), Parasuraman et al. (1988) defined service quality as the comparison of a consumer’s evaluation of the service performance to their pre-expectation of the service. This definition of the gap model between expectation and perception has been widely adopted in the marketing literature (Alexandris et al., 2001; Brown, Churchill, & Peter, 1993; Carman, 1990;
McDonald, Sutton, & Milne, 1995). However, due to lack of predictive validity and measurement reliability, this gap model has been criticized (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Buttle, 1996, Zhang et al., 2004b), and researchers have recommended using a performance-only model by viewing service quality as an attitudinal construct (Crompton & Love, 1995; Cronin & Taylor, 1992; VanDyke, Kappelmen, & Prybutok, 1997; Zeithaml et al., 1996). Empirically, Cronin and Taylor compared the performance-only measure with the gap model and found that the performance-only measure was superior to all four industries to which the measurement was applied. Based on the performance-only measure, service quality is operationalized as a consumer’s perceptions towards a service performance received by the consumer.
Significance of Examining Service Quality Theoretically, one of the most important reasons to examine service quality is due to its high explanatory power on outcome variables, such as purchase intentions (Petrick & Backman, 2001; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990; Tsuji et al., 2007), cost (Crosby, 1979), profitability (Buzzell & Gale, 1987; Rust & Zahorik, 1993), customer satisfaction (Bolton & Drew, 1991; Cronin & Taylor, 1992), and word-of-mouth (Petrick & Backman, 2001). The practical importance of investigating service quality lies in the fact that a high quality of service will produce a competitive edge, which will be directly related to revenue generation (Zhang et al., 1998a, 2004c). Furthermore, accurate and periodic assessment would provide management with feedback by pointing out areas in which management should improve.
Service quality research also has significance in the field of sport management. According to Wakefield and Sloan (1995), study on service quality has been a largely undeveloped area compared to areas such as psychology (i.e., team identification and motivation) and sociodemographic variables (gender, ethnicity, income, and education) in spectator attendance research. Zhang et al. (2004c) argued that services in relation to a sporting event can be extended to the game support/operation programs, which are considered extensions of the core product (game itself). Thus, examining service quality of those game support/operation programs would provide information for immediate attention by sport marketers. Moreover, the attributes relevant to game support/operation programs can be controlled and manipulated by a sport marketer, whereas the game itself cannot. Therefore, examining satisfaction toward game support/operation programs would have much practical relevance and value for game management (Baker & Crompton, 2000; Zhang et al., 2004c, 2005).
Measurement of Service Quality For the past two decades, service quality research has been guided by two theoretical perspectives: (a) the American point of view that is represented by the SERVQUAL scale (Parasuraman et al., 1988) and its numerous modifications (Brown et al., 1993; Carman, 1990;
MacKay & Crompton, 1990; McDonald et al., 1995; Wright, Duray, & Goodale, 1992) and (b) the European viewpoint, referred to as the Nordic model, developed by Grönroos (1984). Both scales were developed based upon Oliver’s (1980) disconfirmation paradigm. Parasuraman and his colleagues (1985) proposed a conceptual model that included 10 factors related to service quality. The 10 factors were as follows: Reliability, Responsiveness, Competence, Access, Courtesy, Communication, Credibility, Security, Understanding/Knowing the customer, and Tangibles. Later, Parasuraman et al. (1988) conducted two studies to empirically test the above 10 factors to determine whether the dimensions were representing various service settings. The first study was conducted using 200 customers recruited by a mall-intercept method. As a result, a preliminary 34-item scale was developed. To further validate the initial scale, the researchers collected 800 customers from four nationally known firms, including a bank, a credit-card company, an appliance repair and maintenance firm, and a long-distance telephone company. For each firm, 200 customers were sampled. As a result of alpha reliability, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and regression, the 10-factor model was collapsed into a five-factor model, called SERVQUAL, which included Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness. Reliability referred to how dependably and accurately the service was performed. Assurance was defined as the courtesy, knowledge, and trust of employees. Tangibles were related to the appearance of physical facilities and communication items. Empathy was defined as the offering of caring and attention to customers. Responsiveness referred to the extent to which a service firm displayed a willingness to help and provide timely service to customers (Parasuraman et al., 1988). Numerous studies in the fields of leisure and sport management have adopted the theoretical framework of the SERVQUAL scale (Chelladurai & Chang, 2000; Howat, Murray, & Crilley, 1999; Kim & Kim, 1995; Lam et al., 2005;
Papadimitriou & Karteroliotis, 2000). In the context of fitness centers in Korea, Kim and Kim (1995) developed a scale of Quality Excellence of Sports Centers (QUESC) that included 33 items under 12 dimensions that measured perceptions of service quality. The twelve dimensions derived from an EFA were as follows: Ambiance, Employee Attitude, Employee Reliability, Social Opportunity, Information Available, Programs Offered, Personal Considerations, Price, Privilege, Ease of Mind, Stimulation, and Convenience. However, it was found that most of the factors showed low reliability. In an attempt to apply the QUESC scale to Greek private fitness centers, Papadimitriou and Karteroliotis (2000) conducted a study using 487 actual users of the fitness centers. Although the authors failed to confirm the factor structure of the QUESC, Papadimitriou and Karteroliotis (2002) proposed a parsimonious and sound a 24-item four-factor model that consisted of Program Availability, Other Services, Instructor Quality, and Facility/Attraction Operations. In the context of Austrian recreation centers, Howat, Absher, Crilley, and Milne (1996) developed a scale that contained 15-items under five factors, including Core Services, Staff Quality, General Facility, Secondary Services, and Knowledge. In an attempt to define more parsimonious dimensions, Howat et al. (1999) tested the five-factor model, which was collapsed into a three-factor model that contained Core, Peripheral, and Personnel. The three-factor model has shown stable psychometric properties in other applications (Howat & Crilley, 2007; Howat et al., 2002). Based on an extensive literature review, Chelladurai and Chang (2000) developed a five-factor model that may generally pertain to the recreation and fitness industry. The factors were: Core Service, Interaction between Employee and Client, Interaction between Client and Client, Context, and Client Participation. While the proposed factors seem relevant to recreation and fitness industry, the conceptual model has not yet been empirically validated. All of the above empirical studies were modeled upon the result of EFA except for Howat and Crilley’s (2007), which utilized CFA.
Adopting Oliver’s (1980) disconfirmation paradigm, Grönroos (1984) proposed a twodimensional model that included technical quality and functional quality. Technical quality was defined as the outcomes of the service, which reflects tangible aspects. Grönroos (2005) elaborated that technical quality is “what the customer is left with, when the service production process and its buyer-seller interactions are over” (p. 63). Functional quality was related to intangible aspects, such as the consumers’ perception as to how the service is delivered. An important aspect when defining a service is the interaction between the service provider and the customer that takes place while the service is delivered (Brady & Cronin, 2001). McDougall & Levesque (2000) used the term ‘relational quality’ as they defined the functional quality while taking into consideration the interaction aspect of the service. Using 447 church members, the authors tested a conceptual model to examine the relative importance of service quality and perceived value on customer satisfaction, which was hypothesized to directly affect behavioral intentions. The results of the study indicated that core service quality, relational service quality, and perceived value were found to be directly related to customer satisfaction, which, in turn influenced behavioral intentions, which were measured by switching intentions and intentions to remain loyal. Based on the Grönroos’ (1984) two-component model, Zhang et al. (1998a) developed the Spectator Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) that contained 24-items under five factors, including Satisfaction with Ticket Service (STS), Satisfaction with Audio Visuals (SAV), Satisfaction with Accessibility and Parking (SAP), Satisfaction with Arena Staff (SAS), and satisfaction with Event Amenities (SEA). As a result of a test of Cronbach’s alpha coefficient and EFA, the scale showed good reliability and construct validity. To the best of the author’s knowledge, the SSI scale was the first instrument empirically tested for measuring spectator service quality toward game support programs. In addition, the SSI scale has been adapted to the contexts of NBA professional basketball games (Zhang et al., 2004c) and minor league hockey games (Zhang et al., 2005b) for the purpose of further validations.