Hyatt, Craig G
01 January 2003
Most research on sport fans in the sport marketing and fan loyalty fields has been based on pre-conceived conceptualizations and definitions congruent with the mindset of team management. Little is known if sport fans view their experiences in this way. This dissertation examines the experience of being a fan of the National Hockey League's Hartford Whalers from the perspective of the insider. Twenty-four fans were interviewed in-depth to gain an understanding of the process of becoming a Whalers fan, being a Whalers fan, living through the franchise relocation, and living life without the Whalers. By analyzing the stories, existing concepts and definitions in the sport marketing and fan loyalty literature are questioned. Contrary to the literature, few Whalers fans progressed through stages of loyalty from sport to team to player. Many became fans by accident after attending their first game at the Hartford Civic Center. Their stories not only question the fan loyalty literature's conceptualization of team loyalty as being both exclusive and consisting of equal parts behavior and attitude, but also question the ethics of relationship marketing, considering how many fans felt betrayed when the team disrupted the relationship by relocating. This dissertation adds to the understanding of sport fans by discovering new insights not discussed in the literature. Whalers fans felt humiliated that they were outnumbered in the region by New York Rangers and Boston Bruins fans, felt a strong, positive attachment to the team's theme song and logo, appreciated the amount of player interaction in the community that would have been impossible in a larger market, felt the pain of relocation even more after the team chose to move to a city no bigger than Hartford in a region unfamiliar with hockey, developed a kinship with fans of teams in situations that reminded them of the Whalers', and came to see themselves as sophisticated hockey fans who had grown accustomed to live NHL hockey. Because of this sense of sophistication, many Whalers fans have been frustrated in their attempts to recapture what they had with the Whalers through pursuing other hockey or sporting options.
McDonald, Mark Alan
01 January 1996
The economics of professional sports in the 1990s, coupled with increased competition for the entertainment dollar, has resulted in a shift of emphasis from acquiring customers to retaining customers. One method to improve retention is through developing strong relationships with customers by constantly striving to provide high quality service. Inability to control the core product, a severe obstacle not faced by other industries, serves to further heighten the need to provide high quality service within this context. With winning in professional sports being cyclical by nature, service quality is one area under the sport marketers control which can be utilized to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, as in other industries, sport managers are searching for tools to effectively measure service quality. In addition to measuring service quality, marketers have also started to measure the value of individual customers. The availability of information technology has enabled marketers to store information on consumers, assess their value to the organizations, and create individualized marketing efforts. Nonetheless, efforts toward measuring customer relationship value are scarce in the literature. The standard approach for measuring relationship value is customer lifetime value (LTV). LTV is "the present value of expected benefits (e.g. Gross margin) less the burdens (e.g., direct costs of servicing and communicating) from customers" (Dwyer, 1989). While this model focuses on estimated income streams from the relationship, it does not account for the added benefits from the relationship. This study developed and empirically tested a model of expanded LTV. Besides measuring a discounted revenue stream, the model measured the strength of the existing relationship and expanded relationship dimensions, as well as an individual's opportunity cost for being in a relationship with a professional franchise. The sensitivity of model parameters was tested and comparisons were made to the standard LTV model. The model was validated by segmenting customers into LTV deciles, and comparing these segments on their ratings of overall service quality, as measured by SERVQUAL (Parasuraman, et. Al., 1988). This model was empirically tested based on a survey distributed to 5000 season account holders of a professional basketball team (n = 1,380). The expanded LTV model was sensitive to alterations in the inflation rate and discount factor (discount rate adjusted for opportunity costs), but relatively insensitive to changes in ticket price and marketing costs. Additionally, the expanded model captured more information about the relationship between customers and franchises than the standard model. Perceptions and expectations of service quality increased with higher levels of customer investment for both dimensions of service quality and service areas. However, the overall impact of LTV on service quality gap (perception expectation) scores was negligible.
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