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Measuring fan avidity can help marketers narrow their focus
The sports industry is one of the 10 largest and fastest growing business sectors in the United States. The size of the industry in 2008 was estimated to be approximately $213 billion, more than twice the size of the U.S. auto industry and seven times the size of the movie industry. A sizable proportion of these revenues are attributed either directly or indirectly to the sports fans. And, like any business, it depends principally on its most loyal and dedicated (avid) consumers/sports fans. Researchers define fan avidity as the level of interest, involvement, passion, and loyalty a fan exhibits to a particular sports entity (i.e., a sport, league, team, and/or athlete). Indeed, avid sports fans have a much stronger emotional connection to the sports entity. From a marketing perspective, these avid sports fans are target customers because they are eager consumers of various products associated with the sport. Avid sports fans have been found to spend considerably more money, time, and effort for sports-related activities and goods than their non-avid fan counterparts. But exactly how do fans express their avidity? Are there different paths to fan avidity? Do these paths differ by fan? If so, what are the revenue implications for sports marketers? Much of the previous commercial research efforts measuring fan avidity have utilized survey methodologies that employ single attitude measures including overall avidity, interest, and involvement. Missing in much of this measurement is the actual fan manifestations or behavioral expressions of fan avidity, i.e., games attended, merchandise purchased, watching the games on TV, reading about the team in the newspaper, playing fantasy sports, etc.