High Involvement Consumer Behavior
Soccer is one of the internationally acclaimed sports. It involves activities during the entire year in the whole world. This kind of sport is rather popular, and there is a match each moment somewhere in different countries. It also involves important sponsors, such as Nike and Adidas multinational signing agencies, which deal with sportswear and gear.
Respondents’ Point of View
To understand the consumer’s behavior behind soccer, it was decided to interview two persons who are soccer fans of different soccer teams in Saudi Arabia. Saud Alharthy, 27 years old, was my first interviewee. Saud was born in a family that likes soccer and fortunately grew up in a city that had several green fields suitable for this kind of sport. The bloodline of his family had fostered the soccer spirit in him when he was five years old. And, at the same time, he started to play daily in the fields. Soccer is deeply rooted in him, and it has become a part of his life and a part of his culture. His favorite team, Al Nasser, has made his preferential color yellow, which even determines his choices when purchasing any product. Due to the fact that blue is the color of the other team, he does not like it since it is the color of his opponent team Al- Hilal. Saud supports Al – Nasser in everything they do. He ensures that he watches all the matches that his team participates in whether in the television or at the stadium. Every year he has to purchase the team’s jersey, and he obtains his sports gear from Nike, the official sponsors of his team. He spends 30 US dollars monthly on his favorite channel that shows his team’s matches. Due to his loyalty to the team, he and some of his other friends from a group that write and follow the team’s status voiced their concerns to the Chief Executive Officer of the team.
The second interviewee was Fahad Alanazi aged 23 years who is a soccer fan of Al-Hilal team. His story is almost similar to of Saud. Fahad has played soccer since his childhood, and a part of his daily schedule is to take a glimpse at his team’s flag then to watch social media to follow the news about his favorite team. Soccer is an essential part of his life, and he knows every happening and news that occurs within the team, following his favorite players and checking the time schedules of the matches. He has provision for soccer in his budget that includes 90 dollars yearly and 20 dollars monthly for his team. His team’s success and failures affect him to such extent that he can decide to remain indoors in order to hide from his rivals who could joke at him. In the neighborhood he has grown, soccer is rather popular, it is an identity of a person and the youth who only envision being soccer players. They enjoy having debates on the teams’ performance, and everyone tries to outdo the records of others. The colors of his team Al-Hilal are also blue and white whereas its sponsor is Adidas. His favorite player is Cristiano Ronaldo, and due to this fact he likes the team and watches certain matches. Moreover, Fahad would purchase anything with his name or picture, such as Clear Shampoo where Ronaldo is the brand ambassador and it proves high quality of the product. The team’s blue color has also influenced his chose regarding certain products that have the blue label on them.
From the above interviews it may be concluded that soccer is a game that involves people completely. It has been associated more with true passion, excitement, high emotions, and its fans are the most loyal and dedicated. Psychological commitment is one key element of fan loyalty. Soccer fans are the people who live and dream about football, and they relive each experience each moment. They are said to be totally in charge of the issues concerning the game, not just spectating but also participating in it. The fans know and deeply understand the team regarding their ratings, standings, players as well as statistical and historical performance. The life of the team becomes solely part of the fan’s life with corresponding insistence to attend all the team’s matches wherever they could be hosted and to completely engage in their wellbeing emotionally. This has promoted the team’s performance. The assistance of fans, such as singing, cheering, waving of the team’s flags, posters, and banners, distributing flyers and playing the teams’ anthem has always highly motivated the players in the field. It gives them the reason to continue their game knowing that there are people waiting for them, giving them morale and cheering them despite any failures. The fan base is the main source of solidarity and win. It contributes to the eventual win either through shouting the opponents down or intimidating them. It is considered that some of them help the referees even in gaining their attention and influencing any decisions they make during the game. The fans do several preparations, especially before and after the match. Some of the fans may be encouraged by certain drinks in order to coordinate themselves during the game; this has grown their social bonds deeply fostering strong friendships.
It is worth noting that football has created respective tradition and sense of belonging to the families, especially the relationships between the father and the son since most fathers usually take their sons with them to any match. They share their feelings, emotions and create a bond that would be later reflected in the life of the son. Social inheritance of football is observed in families where the whole family could go to the stadium and enjoy the game together. They could watch it together in the television in the living room of their house creating animated debates and conversations among the members of their family. Saud and Fahad show how football has become a part of them and their lives since childhood because the families and communities they grew up in attract and nurture soccer talent from the young age.
Consumer Behavior Theory: The Respondents Perspective
Consumer behavior studies corresponding characteristics and variables to understand their needs and wants while trying to assess the influences on the consumer by the environment. In this analysis, one may consider brand image as a driving force of soccer fan loyalty (Bauer, Sauer & Exler, 2005). It attracts consumers to a particular product or a person. It is a combination of the attributes, benefits, and attitudes to the brand. The brand image in the football environment is measured by its product-related attributes (team, team play, coach, and success). Secondly, it is assessed by non-product related attributes (team fans, the club, the official sponsor, and stadium) and, lastly, by the benefits obtained from the product (identity, entertainment, and fond memories created). The importance of the brand image influences the loyal attitude of the fans. Moreover, the non-product related attributes seem to affect strongly the fan base and the fan retention rate since they are more contextual than the product-related ones. All these characteristics are mostly psychological or in the sense where a consumer is particularly attracted by something since they can associate with the certain events or are reminded of them. A fan is always happy when the team he supports wins a tournament.
Soccer and Brand Image
Soccer has a large clientele base that is the focus of every marketer. The consumers are highly involved in the process of their purchases, especially with regards which brand they would support. Therefore, there is a need for smart branding of a team in order to allow prevalence of favorable and valuable opportunities. A consumer does not just buy a product due to its features and attributes but due to the value and importance he attaches to it (Bauer, Sauer & Exler, 2005). Most high-level involvement purchases are connected with the most luxurious items and products in the sphere of soccer. It concerns the brand loyalty that regardless of the brand the team carries, it will determine one’s choice in the sales shop. Saud and Fahad are the fans of different teams sponsored by different organizations; hence, each of them buys a product of the team’s sponsors or has the same labels. This is a very psychological approach. It is considered as a habit that regardless of the product they need, it has to belong to the certain brand. For example, they both buy sports gear from their sponsors while Fahad has gone to an extent of using the same shampoo since 2008 because the brand sponsor is his best football player.
In the sports industry, the need and urge to be profitable while being socially-accepted encourages most organizations to be competitive. Businesses have integrated corporate social responsibility in their operations and plans in order to correspond to the consumer needs. However, there are some issues that require improvement, such as the benefits that result from it. In case of Nike and Adidas, they sponsored the Al – Nasser and Al- Hilal teams respectively. The fans of these teams get their sports gear from these organizations. Their sponsorship deal refers more to them with increased consumer base and increased financial performance. Fahad and Saud buy something from the sponsors either monthly or yearly that show their sponsors that there is an assured market for their products concerning the linkage between the social initiatives and the financial performances expected. The most important criterion for a fan is positive information while determining any endorsement pack. The Clear Shampoo has been endorsed by Ronaldo, which means that Fahad uses it because he likes Ronaldo in the field, the way he plays and his skills of handling the ball. Any other information about him does not affect his choice. A team’s involvement with the fan base needs to be re-emphasized and affiliation fostered especially through such groups as that of Saud where they have formed an unofficial organization to check the team (Gaunt, Sindic & Leyens, 2005). This can be a platform for the team to use to package themselves and place their merchandise for easy access and discussions with the loyal base.
Brand imagery in the soccer world is the most important attribute that many soccer enthusiasts consider. The future of football lies in more organizations developing brands that will involve the fans. It is the image that attracts the consumer. Consequently, the organizations have to develop better social initiatives in order to capture the niche.