Toward a better understanding of uncommon loyalty

Neale, Larry (2007) Toward a better understanding of uncommon loyalty. PhD thesis, University of Western Australia.


Some brands seem to garner uncommon levels of loyalty from their customers. These brands can weather economic downturns, long-term competitive disadvantage and continual performance failures to emerge with a core of dedicated, committed, and loyal consumers. Good examples of this phenomenon come from sports. Some sports teams have fans who proudly proclaim their loyalty as well as financially support their team through attendance, yet live their entire life without witnessing their team win a championship. Why would they do this, when switching brands is possible?

This study used the sports industry to explore the minds and analyse the behaviours of sports fans in order to learn more about their uncommon loyalty towards their favourite team. A comprehensive review of loyalty and sports literature revealed researchers were better defining and measuring the dimensions of loyalty, while sports marketers were able to explain more of the variability in attendance. There was still a gap, however, that needed filling to explain this uncommon loyalty.

One of the features of the sporting industry is the ritualised way in which it is consumed across the world. Fans of every sport have rituals and superstitions to help them enjoy the spectacle, socialise with other like-minded fans, and reduce some of the anxiety of watching their team play. Although some sports researchers have touched on the topic of ritual, none has defined, measured or applied it to desirable outcomes such as commitment and attendance.

This study uses a sample of 651 attendees at an Australian Football League game to explore ritual behaviour, define the game-day rituals observed, and design a scale to measure sports fan ritual in order to investigate the link between ritual, and attitudinal and behavioural loyalty. Fan ritual was found to be two-dimensional with personal and social rituals. The associations between social ritual and commitment, and social ritual and attendance are positive and significant, while personal ritual does not significantly influence commitment or attendance. The findings support previous research that found a significant and positive relationship between identification and attendance, and extend previous research by finding a significant and positive relationship between social rituals and attendance.

For academic researchers, the findings are important to establish the role of ritual in consumption and loyalty, while opening future research opportunities in other product categories. For sports marketers, the results indicate the importance of developing and facilitating consumption rituals tied to game day attendance, with a view to generating uncommon loyalty.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 17007
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Refereed: No
Keywords: consumer ritual, fan behavior, fan behaviour, sport marketing, superstition, loyalty
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > MARKETING (150500) > Consumer-Oriented Product or Service Development (150501)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Institution: University of Western Australia
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 17 Dec 2008 22:51
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:40

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