The Influence of Relationship Quality on Sport Consumption Behaviors: An Empirical Examination of the Relationship Quality Framework

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DOI: 10.1123/jsm.25.6.576
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The importance of relationship quality in relationship marketing has been well documented; however, very little attention has been paid to the issues of relationship quality in sport consumer behavior contexts. We investigated the cognitive structure of relationship quality (RQ) constructs (Trust, Commitment, Intimacy, Identification, Reciprocity) by comparing a general-specific model to a hierarchical model. In addition we empirically tested the link between RQ and three sport consumer behavioral intentions: attendance, media consumption, and licensed merchandise consumption. The model comparison revealed that individual constructs reflected both the distinct aspects of the specific dimensions of relationship quality and the holistic nature of relationship quality, supporting a general-specific model. Results from the simultaneous equation model indicated that for sport consumers, relationship quality with the team explained 56% of the variance in intention to attend games, 75% of intention to consume sport media, and 66% of intention to purchase licensed merchandise.
Journal of Sport Management, 2011, 25, 576-592
© 2011 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Kim is with Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Trail is
with MSAL, Seattle University, Seattle, WA. Ko is with the
Dept. of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management, Univer-
sity of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
The Influence of Relationship Quality
on Sport Consumption Behaviors: An Empirical
Examination of the Relationship Quality Framework
Yu Kyoum Kim Galen Trail
Florida State University Seattle University
Yong Jae Ko
University of Florida
The importance of relationship quality in relationship marketing has been well documented; however, very little
attention has been paid to the issues of relationship quality in sport consumer behavior contexts. We investigated
the cognitive structure of relationship quality (RQ) constructs (Trust, Commitment, Intimacy, Identication,
Reciprocity) by comparing a general-specic model to a hierarchical model. In addition we empirically tested
the link between RQ and three sport consumer behavioral intentions: attendance, media consumption, and
licensed merchandise consumption. The model comparison revealed that individual constructs reected both
the distinct aspects of the specic dimensions of relationship quality and the holistic nature of relationship
quality, supporting a general-specic model. Results from the simultaneous equation model indicated that
for sport consumers, relationship quality with the team explained 56% of the variance in intention to attend
games, 75% of intention to consume sport media, and 66% of intention to purchase licensed merchandise.
Relationship marketing can be dened as “all mar-
keting activities directed towards establishing, develop-
ing, and maintaining successful relational exchanges”
(Morgan & Hunt, 1994, p. 22). In recent years, both
researchers and practitioners have increasingly empha-
sized the importance of relationship marketing in sport
organizations (Harris & Ogbonna, 2008). The reason
for the increased focus on relationship marketing is that
researchers and sport marketers generally believe that
relationship marketing efforts can enhance relationships
with sport consumers. These enhanced customer relation-
ships can eventually result in increased team performance
outcomes, such as ticket sales, sport media consumption
and licensed merchandise sales. Although relationship
marketing has been advocated as an effective strategy to
foster sport consumption behaviors, extant research pro-
vides limited insights about how relationship marketing
inuences sport consumption behaviors. A relationship
quality approach can offer a valuable framework for
connecting relationship marketing to sport consumption
behaviors of interest.
Relationship quality can be dened as a metacon-
struct composed of several distinct but related facets
such as trust, commitment, identication, intimacy, and
reciprocity, which reect overall assessment of strength
and depth of relationships between organizations and
consumers (De Wulf, Odekerken-Schröder, & Iacobucci,
2001; Fournier, 1998; Palmatier, Dant, Grewal, & Evans,
2006). Achieving a better understanding of relationship
quality is critical for both implementing and studying
relationship marketing for the following reasons. First,
relationship quality helps systematically arrange a wide
array of relational constructs built on various theoreti-
cal bases into a single conceptual framework (Fournier,
1998). Second, relationship quality serves as a useful
measure to evaluate the effectiveness of relationship
marketing (De Wulf et al., 2001). Third, relationship
quality offers a tool for diagnosing the pitfalls in building
and maintaining relationships with customers and devis-
ing effective and efcient remedies for those problems
(Roberts, Varki, & Brodie, 2003). Fourth, relationship
quality provides a benchmark to separate successful
relationships from unsuccessful relationships. Lastly,
relationship quality is regarded as a key component of
customer equity. Customer equity typically refers to the
lifetime value of customers to an organization that focuses
on costs of acquisition and retention of the customers
(Blattberg & Deighton, 1996), and, to a greater extent,
customer equity has become recognized as an essential
factor for making investment and price decisions (Wiesel,
Skiera, & Villanueva, 2008).
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 577
The importance of relationship quality in relationship
marketing has been well supported; however, very little
attention has been paid to the issues of relationship quality
in sport consumer behavior contexts. The fundamental
characteristics of relationships substantially differ across
types of consumers and products (Berscheid & Peplau,
1983; Fournier, 1998). For both researchers and sport
marketers then, it will be advantageous to more fully
understand the unique nature of relationship quality
between a sport consumer and a team.
Kim and Trail (in press) recently developed a concep-
tual framework proposing the essential constructs of sport
consumer-team relationship quality (trust, commitment,
intimacy, identication, and reciprocity) and identifying
expected outcomes of sport consumer-team relationship
quality (attendance, media consumption, and licensed
merchandise consumption). Empirical testing of concep-
tual models and theoretical propositions are vital steps in
the scientic inquiry process of a research phenomenon.
Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to empirically
test a conceptual model of sport consumer-team relation-
ship quality based on Kim and Trail’s conceptual model
to build a better relationship quality knowledge-base in
a sport consumer behavior context. More specically,
the objectives of this study were to: (a) identify the key
constructs to assess the quality of the relationship between
sport consumers and the team; (b) investigate the cogni-
tive structure of the sport consumer-team relationship
quality constructs by conceptually and empirically com-
paring a general-specic model of relationship quality to
a hierarchical model and (c) identify expected behavioral
outcomes of relationship quality and empirically examine
the link between relationship quality and sport consumer
behaviors, including attendance, sport media consump-
tion and licensed merchandise product consumption.
Theoretical Framework
Relationship Quality Constructs
Kim and Trail (in press), as per Eisenhardt (1989), used
the following processes to determine the essential sport
consumer-team relationship quality constructs: extant
literature review, expert opinion from a panel of practi-
tioners and academics, and past experience. First, they
selected the relationship quality constructs that were
identied in more than three articles across various areas
of study. Next, after a further review of the extant litera-
ture and experts’ critique, the initially selected constructs,
not considered to be critical to understanding relation-
ship quality between sport consumers and a team, were
removed. As a result, the conceptual framework included
the following ve relationship quality constructs: trust,
commitment, intimacy, identication, and reciprocity.
Trust.  Trust can be dened as “one party’s belief that
its needs will be fullled by actions undertaken by the
other party” (Anderson & Weitz, 1989, p. 312). Based on
reported evidence, there appears to be general agreement
among researchers that trust is a key component of
relationship quality (Fournier, 1998; Morgan & Hunt,
1994; Palmatier, Jarvis, Beckkoff, & Kardes, 2009).
Furthermore, the importance of trust in establishing and
maintaining long-term relationships has been repeatedly
stressed in the extant literature (Garbarino & Johnson,
1999; Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987; Morgan & Hunt,
1994; Palmatier et al., 2006). Although research on trust
in a sport consumer behavior context has been sparse,
previous research provides enough evidence for the
following two suggestions to be made. First, consumers’
trust can be placed in inanimate objects such as brands
and rms (Fournier, 1998; Garbarino & Johnson, 1999).
Second, trust is an essential ingredient for all types
of relational exchanges, including the one between a
consumer and a rm (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Drawing
on the above literature, Kim and Trail (in press) proposed
that the concept of trust between sport consumers and a
team is tenable; trust is an essential component of sport
consumer-team relationship quality.
Commitment.  Commitment has been considered as “an
exchange partner believing that an ongoing relationship
with another is so important as to warrant maximum
efforts at maintaining it; that is, the committed party
believes that relationship is worth working on to ensure
that it endures indenitely” (Morgan & Hunt,1994, p.
23). Together with trust, commitment has been the most
commonly accepted component of relationship quality
(Dwyer, et al., 1987; Garbarino & Johnson, 1999; Morgan
& Hunt; Palmatier et al., 2006). Levy and Weitz (2004)
highlighted how commitment sets relational partnerships
apart from functional transactions. In the spectator sport
context, commitment can be dened as sport consumers’
enduring desire to continue a relationship with a particular
sport organization (Ross, James, & Vargas, 2008;
Mahony, Madrigal, & Howard, 2000). Commitment
has long been emphasized as a key construct to explain
the nature of the relationship between sport consumers
and a team, and to play a substantial role in the sport
consumption decision (Funk & James, 2001; Funk &
Pritchard, 2006; Mahony et al., 2000).
Intimacy.  Intimacy can be dened as the degree of
familiarity, closeness, and openness to relationship
partners (Fournier, 1998). Although the term intimacy
is often used to refer to sexual feelings and physical
contact in romantic relationships, the focus of the current
study is on nonsexual dimensions of intimacy, which is
in accordance with Fournier’s (1998) conceptualization
of intimacy. Intimacy has also been recognized as an
essential component of relationship quality (Smit,
Bronner, & Tolboom, 2007; Swaminathan, Page,
& Gürhan-Canli, 2007; Thorbjørnsen, Supphellen,
Nysveen, & Pedersen, 2002). Fournier stressed that a
successful brand relationship could not be achieved
without establishing strong intimacy. Although not using
the term intimacy, researchers in sport management
578 Kim, Trail, and Ko
have studied the concepts dening intimacy, such as
familiarity, closeness, and openness. These concepts have
been reported as vital elements for building a favorable
relationship with sport consumers (Harris & Ogbonna,
2008; McDonald & Milne, 1997).
Identification.Fournier (1998) dened self-connection
as a “relationship quality facet [that] reects the degree to
which the brand delivers on important identity concerns,
tasks, or themes, thereby expressing a signicant aspect
of self” (p. 364). Self-connection has been identied as
a critical component of relationship quality (Smit et al.,
2007; Swaminathan et al., 2007; Thorbjørnsen et al.,
2002). Strong self-connection activates the protective
feelings of uniqueness and dependency, both of which
can drive customers to maintain relationships (Drigotas
& Rusbult, 1992). Moreover, a strong self-connection
discourages customers from defecting from relationships
when facing difcult times (Lydon & Zanna, 1990). In the
current conceptual framework, self-connection to a brand
or rm corresponds to the identication with a team.
Both concepts are built upon a conceptual foundation
from Stryker’s (1968) identity theory which states the
existence of multiple roles assumed by individuals. Team
identication has been widely suggested as a pivotal
construct to capture the fundamentals of the relationship
between sport consumers and a team (Laverie & Arnett,
2000; McDonald & Milne, 1997; Trail, Anderson, &
Fink, 2005).
Reciprocity.  Reciprocity can be regarded as
“internalized beliefs and expectations about the balance
of obligations in an exchange relationship” (Palmatier,
2008, p. 77). The crucial role of reciprocity in cultivating
strong and successful relationships has been well
documented (De Wulf et al., 2001; Miller & Kean,
1997; Palmatier, 2008; Schwarz, Trommsdorff, Albert,
& Mayer, 2005). Researchers in sport management have
also acknowledged that reciprocity is a main construct
characterizing the nature of the relationship between sport
consumers and teams (Couvelaere & Richelieu, 2005;
Harris & Ogbonna, 2008). It has been argued that sport
consumers want to develop and maintain relationships
in which they feel appreciated and valued in return for
what they psychologically and nancially invest in the
team (Couvelaere & Richelieu, 2005; Harris & Ogbonna,
2008). Furthermore, Howard and Crompton (2004) noted
that sport consumers are more likely to defect from a
relationship with a team if they perceived the reciprocity
in the relationship to be imbalanced.
Structure of Relationship Quality
It is of particular importance for academics and practi-
tioners alike to understand how the multifaceted arrays
of relationship quality constructs are evaluated and struc-
tured in the sport consumer’s mind. Although there is no
clear consensus in the literature on the causal direction,
researchers have consistently suggested that individual
relationship quality constructs closely interact with each
other, but still are differentiated (Fournier, 1998; Palma-
tier et al., 2006). To account for the structure of these
highly related but also distinct individual relationship
quality constructs, many researchers have proposed hier-
archical models hypothesizing that relationship quality is
a second-order construct composed of multiple rst-order
relationship quality constructs (Crosby, Evans, & Cowles,
1990; De Canniére, De Pelsmacker, & Geuens, 2009; De
Wulf et al., 2001; Dwyer, et al., 1987; Roberts et al., 2003;
Figure 1). Hierarchical models have typically been used
to explain the structure of relationship quality factors
partly because researchers in disciplines outside statistics
are more familiar with the hierarchical approach (Chen,
West, & Sousa, 2006). In this study though, a different,
less routine approach, was implemented to account for
the structure of relationship quality constructs. General-
specic models, which provide an alternative approach to
hierarchical models in explaining the structure of highly
related but distinct constructs, have been proposed in the
area of intelligence research (Gustafsson & Balke, 1993;
Luo, Petrill, & Thomson, 1994). This is useful because
general-specific models specify a general construct
accounting for the commonality of the individual con-
structs and explicitly dene domain specic constructs
representing a unique portion of individual constructs.
According to Chen et al.’s (2006) notion, the general-
specic approach has the following advantages over a
hierarchical approach in some situations. First, general-
specic models are theoretically more exible because
they do not require the assumption of the existence of
a higher-order factor or a hierarchy between the lower-
order factor and higher-order factor. Researchers who
have been involved with the relationship quality literature
while using a hierarchical model have often failed to
provide sufcient theoretical support for the hierarchy
assumption. Consequently, this has rendered the validity
of hierarchical models as questionable.
Second, researchers who have used hierarchical
models typically view the individual relationship quality
constructs as mere indicators of a higher-order relation-
ship quality. General-specic models, however, explic-
itly denote domain specic factors independent from a
general or global factor. This parallels a higher-order
factor in the hierarchical models. Thus, general-specic
models are more consistent than hierarchical models with
the literature suggesting that the role of domain specic
characteristics of relationship quality should be taken
into consideration to best understand the complicated and
multifaceted concept of relationship quality (Palmatier,
2008; Palmatier et al., 2006, Fournier, 1998).
Third, a general-specic approach is more useful
when empirically examining the relationship between
relationship quality and external constructs such as the
potential antecedents and consequences of relationship
quality. A general-specic approach can easily provide
information on the contribution of both the general
factor and the domain specic factors to explain external
constructs. This contrasts with the hierarchical approach
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 579
because it can only be used to discover the effect of the
higher-order factor on the external constructs.
The general-specic model may therefore be a more
appropriate approach to represent the structure of the
relationship quality constructs in our research. Thus,
the general-specic model should be compared with a
hierarchical model because they are two plausible alterna-
tives to account for the structural nature of relationship
quality constructs based on the literature. In addition,
it is typically recommended to compare the research
model (i.e., general-specic model) with an alternative
model (i.e., hierarchical model) for validating a research
model (Iacobucci, Saldanha, & Deng, 2007; MacCallum,
Wegener, Uchino, & Fabrigar, 1993; McDonald, 2002).
The proposed general-specic model of relationship
quality incorporates both a general relationship construct
and domain specic factors (Figure 2). The general rela-
tionship quality construct represents a common portion
of relationship quality and multiple domain-specic
relationship quality factors reect domain-specic char-
acteristics of relationship quality.
The Influence of Relationship Quality
on Behavioral Intentions
In developing the relationship quality framework, it is
important to address the inuence of relationship quality
constructs on various sport consumption behaviors. In
their model, Kim and Trail (in press) proposed that there
are three behavioral aspects of interest in sport consumer
behavior specic to fans and spectators: attendance,
sport media consumption, and licensed merchandise
Attendance.  Increasing attendance is one of the most
important objectives for sport organizations. Relationship
quality has been linked to positively inuencing purchase
intention and actual purchases. For example, Palmatier
Figure 1 — Second-Order Model of Relationship Quality
580 Kim, Trail, and Ko
et al. (2006) found that relationship quality explained
an average of 52% of the variance in purchase intention
across more than 50 pieces of empirical research in a
consumer products context. In addition, Hennig-Thurau
and Klee (1997) reported that relationship quality is
a primary driver of repeat purchase behaviors. In the
sport consumption behavior realm, relationship quality
constructs including trust (Couvelaere & Richelieu,
2005), identication (Laverie & Arnett, 2000; Trail,
Fink, & Anderson, 2003), commitment (Mahony et al.,
2000), reciprocity (Hunt, Bristol, & Bashaw, 1999) and
intimacy (Fisher & Wakeeld, 1998) have been proposed
as major predictors of game attendance. Based on these
ndings, Kim and Trail (in press) proposed that the
above-mentioned ve sport consumer-team relationship
quality constructs would inuence attendance intention.
Thus, we will test the hypothesis that relationship quality
positively inuences game attendance intention.
Sport Media Consumption.Sport organizations have
become more and more concerned about the media
consumption behavior of their fans. The reason for this
concern is sport consumers’ media related consumption of
the team has crucial implications for the nancial success
of the organization. Extant relationship quality literature
has allowed researchers to suggest that high relationship
quality will likely increase behavioral dependence.
This increased dependence includes the expansion of
the scope, diversity, and frequency of brand-related or
rm-related activities (Fournier, 1998). This point can
be extended to sport media consumption behaviors.
Sport consumers who perceive high relationship quality
will increase team related behaviors, including team
related media consumption. We therefore hypothesized
that relationship quality positively affects sport media
consumption intention.
Licensed Merchandise Consumption.  Licensed
merchandise sales are critical for sport organizations
because licensed merchandise is a substantial source of
revenue for sport teams and leagues; licensed merchandise
also helps sport organizations communicate their brand
Figure 2 — General-Specic Model of Relationship Quality
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 581
identity with their fans. High brand relationship quality
can also result in positive attitude brand extensions (Park,
Kim, & Kim, 2002). This nding implies that high brand
relationship quality encourages consumers to purchase
brand extension products. Licensed merchandise can
be viewed as brand extensions of the team’s brand. In
addition, researchers have suggested that one of the
major reasons people wear team licensed merchandise is
to make their relationship with the team publicly known
and validated (Cialdini et al., 1976). Furthermore, Trail
et al. (2005) found that identication was related to the
likelihood of purchasing the team’s merchandise in the
future. Kim and Trail (in press) extended these ideas and
proposed that sport consumer-team relationship quality is
a major predictor of licensed merchandise consumption.
Drawing on these ndings, and to test Kim and Trail’s
proposal, we hypothesized that relationship quality
will have a positive effect on licensed merchandise
consumption intention.
Participants and Procedures
The study was conducted in the context of collegiate
sports and a football team from a Division I Football
Bowl Subdivision university was chosen as the focal sport
team of the study. The target population for the study
was individuals who were afliated with a southeastern
university. The sampling population was chosen because
this population is a major part of a collegiate sport team’s
fan base and an important market segment (Masteralexis,
Barr, & Hums, 2009). The sample for the study was drawn
using the judgmental sampling method. This method is
a type of nonprobability sampling in which researchers
choose a sample to be studied based on the researchers’
knowledge and judgment about the population, its ele-
ments, and the purpose of the study.
Before the data were collected, approval was
obtained from the university’s Institutional Review
Board (IRB). Two major survey modes (face-to-face
self-administered and online self-administered surveys)
were employed to collect the data. Social science research
increasingly uses a mixed-mode design as a way to
decrease effects or biases of data collection modes on the
survey results while balancing cost (Groves et al., 2004).
Face-to-face survey participants were recruited through
visiting classes, dining areas, and recreation and sport
centers across campus. The potential participants were
informed of the purpose of the study and the voluntary
nature of participation in the survey. After signing the
informed consent, the participants were then given brief
instructions on how to properly ll out the survey. On
average, the questionnaire took participants 10 min to
complete. Participants did not receive compensation for
completing the survey. A total of 424 participants lled
out the face-to-face self-administered questionnaire.
Online survey participants were recruited by sending
an e-mail that included a message to invite the recipient
to participate in the online survey and a link to an Internet
website where the survey questionnaire was located. Lists
of e-mail addresses were collected from various listservs
and the university homepage. The purpose of the study,
description of the planned procedure, and brief instruc-
tions for completion of the survey, were included in the
rst part of the questionnaire. Informed consent was
obtained by the respondents reading the cover letter and
choosing to ll out the survey posted on the Web page.
Of 2,077 e-mail recipients, 258 completed and returned
the survey. Although the response rate of 12% was rela-
tively low, the rst wave of participants and the second
wave of participants revealed no signicant differences
in terms of the mean scores of 22 out of the 24 variables,
suggesting that there was no signicant nonresponse bias
(Armstrong & Overton, 1977). A total of 682 individuals
participated in the study. Fifty-one surveys were disquali-
ed due to incomplete information. This resulted in 631
usable surveys. The remaining participants consisted of
246 males (39%) and 385 females (61%). The average
age of the participants was 25 years old ranging from 18
to 74 (M = 25.49, SD = 10.24). The majority of the par-
ticipants were White (62%), followed by Hispanic (20%),
African-American (8%), Asian (7%), and other (3%).
Measures for Trust (3 items), Commitment (3 items),
Identication (3 items), Intimacy (3 items) and Reciproc-
ity (3 items) from the Sport Consumer-Team Relation-
ship Quality scale (Kim, Trail, Woo, & Zhang, 2009)
were used. These constructs were deemed to have good
psychometric properties: reliability coefcient values
ranged from .83 to .95 and Average Variance Extracted
values ranged from .62 to .86 (Kim et al., 2009). To
measure attendance intention, two items were taken from
Trail et al. (2005) and one item from Kwon, Trail, and
James (2007). Two items from Fink, Trail, and Ander-
son (2002) and one item from Trail et al. (2005) were
used to measure sport media consumption intention.
Three items from Kwon et al. (2007) were modied to
measure licensed merchandise consumption intention.
The response format for the relationship quality and
sport consumption intention was a 7-point Likert-type
scale anchored by 1 = strongly disagree and 7 = strongly
agree. Items measuring demographic characteristics of
participants were also included in the questionnaire.
These questions were included to provide measures of
gender, age and ethnicity. To avoid response bias from
order effect, the items in each part were randomly placed
in their respective order.
Although the data analyzed in this study was reproduced
from Kim et al. (2009), the set of variables analyzed in
the current study was different than the one in Kim et al.
(2009). Specically, Kim et al. (2009) only included sport
consumer-team relationship quality variables. However,
the current study incorporated the sport consumption
intention variables in addition to sport consumer-team
582 Kim, Trail, and Ko
relationship quality variables. We therefore expected
slightly different measurement property results for the
relationship quality variables and we also needed to evalu-
ate the measurement properties of the sport consumption
behavior variables. Accordingly, a CFA was conducted
on all eight proposed constructs and the results reported.
Data Screening and Test of Assumptions
Based on the examination of randomly selected pairs of
variables, the linearity assumption appeared to be reason-
ably well met. The positive sign of the determinant of the
input matrix indicated that severe multicollinearity or sin-
gularity did not exist. The univariate distribution of 18 out
of 24 observed variables however, were signicantly (p <
.01) skewed (skewness ranged from -1.57 to .14). In addi-
tion, the univariate distribution of all observed variables
showed signicant kurtosis ranging from -.97–1.86. The
normalized Mardia’s coefcient of skewness and kurtosis
were 59.66 and 31.62 respectively. These results indicated
a violation to both the univariate and the multivariate
normality assumption. Consequently, the Satorra-Bentler
(1994) scaling method was adopted. The Satorra-Bentler
scaled χ2 (S-B χ2) statistic has been shown to be robust
to the violation of the normality assumption (Bentler &
Yuan, 1999; Curran, West, & Finch, 1996). Accordingly,
to conduct χ2 difference tests, the S-B χ2 was adjusted
using the formula from Satorra and Bentler (2001).
Measurement Model
A CFA was performed to evaluate the measurement
model of relationship quality and sport consumption
behaviors using Mplus 5.2 (Muthén & Muthén, 2008).
The input matrix for the measurement model of relation-
ship quality and sport consumption behavioral intention
constructs is available upon request from the rst author.
The model t the data (S-B χ2/df = 465.411/224 = 2.077,
RMSEA = .041, CFI = .980, SRMR = .033).
Several researchers have reported that Cronbach’s
coefcient alpha (α; Cronbach, 1951) has a tendency to
inaccurately reect the true reliability when a measure-
ment model is not essentially τ-equivalent (Cronbach,
1951; Novick & Lewis, 1967; Osburn, 2000; Raykov,
1997). The t of the τ-equivalent measurement model was
signicantly worse than the congeneric model (adjusted
S-B χ2difference (8) = 94.11), indicating the measurement
model was not τ-equivalent (see Graham, 2006, for com-
parison procedure). Therefore, use of α for the reliability
estimator seemed inappropriate and a structural equation
modeling method developed by Raykov (1997, 2001) was
used to counteract limitations of α. This method is consis-
tent with classical measurement theory of reliability and is
applicable to general cases of measures (Graham, 2006).
A full technical description of the method is beyond the
scope of this paper and further details of the methods can
be found in Raykov (1997, 2001) and Graham (2006).
Table 1 includes the factor loadings, AVE, and reli-
ability coefcients of the nal measurement model. The
measurement scales showed adequate psychometric prop-
erties as indicated by all signicant factor loadings in the
predicted direction (p < .05), AVE values ranging from
.62 for Reciprocity to .91 for Attendance Intention and
reliability coefcients ranging from .83 for Reciprocity
to .97 for Attendance Intention. In addition, discriminant
validity was established by testing χ2-difference between
two nested models for each pair of latent factors in which
the researchers either constrained the correlation between
two factors to be 1.0 (i.e., the two factors are perfectly
correlated) or allowed the correlation to be free (Ander-
son & Gerbing, 1988). Correlations for all pairs of latent
factors were signicantly different from 1.0, rendering
support for discriminant validity. The correlations among
the latent variables are presented in Table 2.
General-specific Model and Hierarchical
First we tested the general-specic model that specied
one general factor of Sport Consumers-Team Relation-
ship Quality and the ve domain specic factors: trust,
commitment, intimacy, identication, and reciprocity.
Next, we tested the second-order factor model. Then
we compared the general-specic model to the second-
order factor model. Previous researchers have reported
that second-order factor models are nested within the
general-specific models (Rindskopf & Rose, 1988;
Yung, Thissen, & McLeod, 1999). A χ2 difference test
was therefore performed to statistically compare the two
alternative models.
The general-specic model yielded good t for
the data (S-B χ2/df = 273.255/75 = 3.643, RMSEA =
.065, CFI = .970, and SRMR = .046). The second-order
hierarchical model indicated adequate t (S-B χ2/df =
396.851/85 = 4.669, RMSEA = .076, CFI = .953, and
SRMR = .060). The χ2 difference test for comparison
of the general-specific model and the second-order
factor model was signicant (adjusted S-B χ2difference (10)
= 110.39). Alternate means of comparing nested models
such as examining overlapping condence intervals for
t indices was not possible in this instance because the
Satorra-Bentler (1994) scaling method does not provide
them. However, the general-specic model appears to t
the data better than the hierarchical model in this case.
Thus the general-specic model was chosen for further
analysis. As can be seen from Figure 2, all factor loadings
for the General Relationship Quality factor were signi-
cant. All factor loadings for domain specic factors were
signicant as well (see Figure 2). From these results, the
implication is that the variance of each relationship qual-
ity indicators was accounted for by domain specic fac-
tors and the general factor of relationship quality factor,
in addition to measurement error (Chen et al., 2006).
Simultaneous Equations Model
The hypothesized simultaneous equations model speci-
ed a direct path from General Relationship Quality to
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 583
Table 1 Factor Loadings (β), Reliability Coefficients (ρ), and Average Variance Extracted Values (AVE)
Scale Factors and items
STRQ Trust .88 0.72
I trust the (Team Name) .84 0.02
The (Team Name) is reliable .83 0.02
I can count on the (Team Name) .87 0.01
Commitment .95 0.85
I am committed to the (Team Name) .93 0.01
I am devoted to the (Team Name) .93 0.01
I am dedicated to the (Team Name) .91 0.01
Intimacy .88 0.74
I am very familiar with the (Team Name) .89 0.01
I know a lot about the (Team Name) .90 0.01
I feel as though I really understand the (Team Name) .78 0.02
Identication 0.72
The (Team Name) reminds me of who I am .82 0.02 .89
The (Team Name) image and my self-image are similar in a lot of ways .84 0.01
The (Team Name) and I have a lot in common .89 0.02
Reciprocity .83 0.62
The (Team Name) unfailingly pays me back when I do something extra for it .70 0.01
The (Team Name) gives me back equivalently what I have given them .78 0.02
The (Team Name) constantly returns the favor when I do something good for it .88 0.02
SCB Attendance Intention .97 0.91
I intend to attend the (Team Name)’s game(s) .93 0.01
The likelihood that I will attend the (Team Name)’s game(s) in the future
is high .98 0.01
I will attend the (Team Name)’s game(s) in the future .95 0.01
Media Consumption Intention .96 0.87
I will track the news on the (Team Name) through the media (e.g., TV,
Internet, Radio, etc.) .92 0.02
I will watch or listen to the (Team Name)’s game(s) through the media
(e.g., TV, Internet, Radio, etc.) .95 0.01
I will support the (Team Name) by watching or listening to (Team Name)’s
game(s) through the media (e.g., TV, Internet, Radio, etc.) .93 0.01
Licensed Merchandise Consumption Intention .92 0.89
I am likely to purchase (Team Name)’s licensed merchandise in the future .92 0.01
In the future, purchasing (Team Name) licensed merchandise is something
I plan to do .95 0.01
In the future, I intend to purchase licensed merchandise representing the
(Team Name) .96 0.01
each of three sport consumption behavioral intention
factors and a direct path from each of ve domain-
specic relationship quality factors to each of the sport
consumption behavior intention factors (Figure 3). The
model t indices indicated that the simultaneous equation
model, which was comprised of one General Relationship
Quality factor, ve domain specic relationship quality
factors, and three sport consumption behavior inten-
tion factors, achieved good t for the data (S-B χ2/df =
483.715/216 = 2.239, RMSEA = .044, CFI = .978, and
SRMR = .044). Figure 3 presents the path coefcients
among the variables in the simultaneous equation model.
584 Kim, Trail, and Ko
Figure 3 — Hypothesized Simultaneous Equations Model
Table 2 Correlations Among Relationship Quality Constructs
and Sport Consumption Behavior Intentions
Trust 1.00
Commitment .82* 1.00
Intimacy .66* .81* 1.00
Identication .83* .77* .69* 1.00
Reciprocity .72* .56* .46* .79* 1.00
Attendance Inten-
tions .59* .73* .65* .56* .37* 1.00
Media .65* .81* .74* .57* .41* .71* 1.00
Merchandise .62* .76* .62* .55* .37* .74* .80* 1.00
*p < .05.
The direct path from General Relationship Quality to
Attendance Intention was signicant and explained 38%
of variance in Attendance Intention. The direct paths from
domain specic Commitment and Intimacy to Attendance
Intention were signicant and accounted for 13% and
3% of the variance in Attendance Intention respectively.
However, the direct paths from domain specic Trust,
Identication, and Reciprocity to Attendance Intention
were not signicant. Overall, General Relationship Qual-
ity, domain specic Commitment, and domain specic
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 585
Intimacy collectively explained 56% of variance in the
Attendance Intention.
The direct path from General Relationship Quality to
Sport Media Consumption Intention was signicant and
explained 41% of variance in Sport Media Consumption
Intention. The direct path from domain specic Trust to
Sport Media Consumption Intention was signicant and
accounted for 3% of the variance. The direct path from
domain specic Commitment to Sport Media Consump-
tion Intention was signicant and explained 22% of the
variance. The direct path from domain specic Intimacy
to Sport Media Consumption Intention was signicant
and explained 8% of the variance. However, the direct
paths from domain specic Identication and Reciproc-
ity to Sport Media Consumption Intention were not sig-
nicant. Finally, General Relationship Quality, domain
specic Trust, Commitment, and Intimacy collectively
explained 76% of variance in Sport Media Consumption
The direct path from General Relationship Quality
to Licensed Merchandise Consumption Intention was
signicant and explained 35% of the variance. The direct
path from domain specic Trust to Licensed Merchandise
Consumption Intention was signicant and accounted
for 4% of the variance. The direct path from domain
specic Commitment to Licensed Merchandise Con-
sumption Intention was signicant and explained 24%
of the variance. The direct path from domain specic
Intimacy to Licensed Merchandise Consumption Inten-
tion was signicant and explained 1% of the variance.
The direct path from domain specic Identication to
Licensed Merchandise Consumption Intention was sig-
nicant and explained 3% of the variance. However, the
direct path from domain specic Reciprocity to Licensed
Merchandise Consumption Intention was not signicant.
Overall, General Relationship Quality, domain specic
Trust, Commitment, Intimacy, Identication collectively
explained 66% of variance in Licensed Merchandise
Consumption Intention.
The main purposes of this investigation were to: (a) iden-
tify the key constructs to assess the quality of relationship
between sport consumers and team; (b) investigate the
cognitive structure of the sport consumer-team relation-
ship quality constructs; and (c) examine the role of the
sport consumer-team relationship quality in sport con-
sumption behaviors. The cognitive structure of relation-
ship quality was empirically assessed through comparing
a general-specic model (consisting of General Relation-
ship Quality and ve domain specic relationship quality
factors) to a hierarchical model (consisting of ve rst-
order latent constructs that represented a second-order
latent variable of general relationship quality). Although
both models t well, the general-specic model t slightly
better in this data set. This result also provides empirical
support for individual constructs reecting both the dis-
tinct aspect of specic dimensions of relationship quality
and the holistic nature of relationship quality (Fletcher,
Simpson, & Thomas, 2000; Fournier, 1996). Thus, sport
consumers may make judgments about relationship qual-
ity with a team depending on the evaluation of domain
specic relationship quality factors (Trust, Commitment,
Intimacy, Identication, and Reciprocity) in conjunction
with a general or common relationship quality construct
(Rindskopf & Rose, 1988). The proposed general-specic
model in this study presents a theoretically and empiri-
cally sound conceptualization of relationship quality in
the context of spectator sport.
General Relationship Quality
The behavioral outcomes of sport consumer-team rela-
tionship quality were investigated by performing a simul-
taneous equations model hypothesizing a relationship
between the sport consumer-team relationship quality
constructs and the sport consumption behavior intention
constructs. Results from the simultaneous equations
model indicate that General Relationship Quality signi-
cantly inuenced all three sport consumption behavioral
intentions. First, with regard to Attendance Intention, our
nding is consistent with the previous research nding
that relationship quality is an essential antecedent of
purchase intention and actual purchase (Hennig-Thurau
& Klee, 1997; Palmatier et al., 2006; Reynolds & Beatty,
1999). Second, with respect to Sport Media Consump-
tion Intention, our result conrms Fournier’s (1996)
nding that relationship quality was a major predictor
of behavioral dependence. Fournier found that customers
who perceived a high quality relationship with a brand
or company not only purchased more products from the
brand or the company, but also expanded their scope,
diversity, and frequency of brand-related or company-
related activities. This behavioral dependence might
explain the nding from the current study that showed
the fans who perceived a higher level of relationship
quality with a sport team were more likely to consume
the team-related media content.
Third, with regard to Licensed Merchandise Con-
sumption, our results support Trail et al.’s (2005) nding
and Park et al.’s (2002) research that a higher level of
relationship quality resulted in a more positive attitude
toward brand extensions (i.e., consumers who perceived
good relationship quality were more likely to buy prod-
ucts using the same brand name). The current study
includes evidence that sport consumers who perceived
good relationship quality have a greater intention to
buy team licensed products. Lastly, we nd relationship
quality has a substantial impact on sport consumption
behavioral intention as evidenced by the large amount
of variance in all three sport consumption behavioral
intentions explained by General Relationship Quality.
This supports the research of Palmatier et al. who reported
that relationship quality explained an average of 52% of
the variance in purchase intention and Fournier (1996)
who suggested that brand relationship quality was a better
586 Kim, Trail, and Ko
predictor of purchase intention than brand attitude and/or
satisfaction because brand relationship quality accounted
for 61% of variance in purchase intention, while brand
attitude and satisfaction accounted for 37% and 52% of
the variance in purchase intention, respectively. Thus, it
can be concluded that the role of relationship quality in
sport consumption decisions is comparable to, if not more
critical than, more generally used constructs to explain
sport consumption decisions.
Domain Specific Factors
Trust.  Evaluating effects of domain specic Trust on
sport consumption behavior intentions show that the
domain specic Trust signicantly affects Sport Media
Consumption Intention and Team Licensed Merchandise
Consumption Intention. This nding is in line with the
previous research in various areas suggesting that trust
is an essential relationship quality construct and it is
a signicant predictor of various consumer behavior
variables such as cooperation, dependence acquiescence,
and purchasing (Bart, Shankar, Sultan, & Urban, 2005;
Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2001; Garbarino & Johnson,
1999; Hewett & Bearden, 2001; Morgan & Hunt,
1994; Schlosser, White, & Lloyd, 2006). This nding
emphasizes that sport organizations should not lose
sight of the importance of trust in building a successful
relationship with sport consumers. Furthermore, our
ndings suggest that it is critical for sport organizations
to identify the inuential determinants of trust and to
develop a marketing strategy that will most effectively
create and improve sport consumers’ trust in the sport
Interestingly, domain specic Trust did not signi-
cantly predict unique variance in Attendance Intention. A
potential mechanism underlying the nonsignicant effect
of domain specic Trust on Attendance Intention is that
a number of available alternatives in sport consumers’
consideration set might moderate the impact of trust
on sport consumption behavior decisions. According to
functionalist theory (Grayson, Johnson, & Chen, 2008),
trust becomes salient when there are multiple available
alternatives in the consideration set and it is needed to
serve the function of ranking the available options and
making an optimal choice. That is, trust is less relevant
to consumer decision-making when only one option is
considered. Therefore, for our respondents, it appears that
domain-specic trust is a relevant factor for consump-
tion decisions on team related media and team licensed
merchandise because, for both consumption decisions,
multiple alternatives in the same product category can be
considered. For example, several college football games
are televised at the same time and there are licensed
products of many different college teams in the stores.
However, trust is not activated for attendance decisions
because the game of the focal team is only practical option
in the college football category.
Commitment.  Our results show that domain specic
Commitment significantly influences all three sport
consumption behavioral intentions. That is, the sports
consumers who have a stronger commitment to the team
are more likely to attend the team’s games, consume team
related media, and purchase team licensed merchandise.
This nding conrms the previous research ndings
in different fields that the customers who are more
committed to a relationship have a greater tendency to
purchase the relational partners’ products (Garbarino &
Johnson, 1999; Mahony et al., 2000; Palmatier et al.,
2009). One noteworthy implication for the nding is that
the sport consumption behaviors driven by commitment
are expected to continue for a relatively long time
because commitment is characterized by its enduring
and long-term nature (Cook & Emerson, 1978; Morgan
& Hunt, 1994). Thus, once sport consumers develop the
belief that the relationship with the team is worth the
effort to maintain it, the sport consumers actively seek
to remain consistent with their belief and to maintain
the relationship with the team through constant efforts
including regularly attending games, habitually following
team related media on a daily basis, and repeatedly
purchasing team licensed merchandise.
Domain specic Commitment accounted for the
largest amount of variance in Attendance Intention
(13%) among domain specific constructs. However,
Commitment still explained considerably less variance
in Attendance Intention than did General Relationship
Quality (38%), the global, higher-order latent construct
composed of the ve relational constructs. This nding
provides empirical support for the notion that no single
relational construct can better predict consumption
behavior than General Relationship Quality (Crosby et
al., 1990; De Wulf et al., 2001; Palmatier et al., 2006).
Overall, our ndings suggest that the true nature of the
relationship between relationship quality and consump-
tion behavior can be best understood by assessing both
General Relationship Quality, which captures the overall
effect of relationship quality on consumption behaviors,
and domain specic factors, which isolate the unique
effects of individual relational constructs.
Intimacy.  Our results demonstrate that when
psychological familiarity, closeness, and openness
between sport consumers and the team exist, sport
consumers are more likely to attend games, follow
team related information through media, and purchase
team licensed merchandise. This is consistent with
previous research suggesting that intimacy is closely
related to various consumer behavior variables including
behavioral dependency, evaluation of brand extension,
and purchasing (Fournier, 1996; Palmatier et al., 2006;
Ramani & Kumar, 2008). Our results are also in line with
the previous research nding that intimacy inuences
various consumption behaviors as a component of overall
relationship quality but it also has a unique impact
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 587
on consumption behaviors as an individual construct
(Morgan & Hunt, 1994; Palmatier et al., 2006; Smit et
al., 2007; Swaminathan et al., 2007).
Overall, the current research conceptually and
empirically supports that a high level of intimacy is an
essential component of successful relationship market-
ing (De Wulf et al., 2001; Fletcher et al., 2000; Fournier,
1998). Therefore, the inclusion of intimacy into the sport
consumer-team relationship marketing framework seems
compelling. In the sport marketing context, intimacy can
be developed through open communication and active
interaction with individual sport consumers. Such efforts
for personalized and interactive communication with
sport consumers are particularly important in the current
marketing environment because new electronic media
and the advancement of information technology have
greatly changed the way the customers communicate
information and this change creates higher consumer
expectations for personalized and interactive communi-
cation (Keller, 2009).
Identification.Our results indicate that domain
specic Identication is signicantly linked to Licensed
Merchandise Consumption Intention but not signicantly
related to Media Consumption Intention or Attendance
Intention. This nding can be explained by the social
nature of sport spectating. As distinguished from
consuming team licensed merchandise, attending a game
and watching on television involves social activities
(Armstrong, 2007). Spectator sport provides a platform
for interacting with others whom individuals like or often
with whom individuals identify. This social interaction
is considered to be a key motive for sport spectating
(Sloan, 1989; Trail & James, 2001). Our results imply
that domain specic Identication is not related to the
motive to socially interact with others through attending
or watching sporting events. Rather, it is associated
with the motive to claim and publicize their connection
with the successful team through using team licensed
merchandise (Cialdini et al., 1976). Thus, domain
specic identication appears to be more important for
merchandise consumption decisions than for attendance
or media consumption decisions.
With regard to the nonsignicant effect of domain-
specic Identication on Attendance Intention and Sport
Media Consumption, the multidimensional nature of
identity as a fan deserves further discussion. Each identity
may consist of multiple subidentities (Bhattacharya &
Sen, 2003). This suggests that identity as a fan of a sport
team is composed of multiple subidentities as well (Trail,
Robinson, Dick, & Gillentine, 2003). These subidentities
are self-conceptions and self-denitions of a fan of the
sport team. In the current study, the self-conceptions of
fan of the focal team could be a partner, supporter, stu-
dent, employee and so forth. These subidentities guide
behaviors but only behaviors that were germane to the
essential characteristics of the individual subidentities
(Mead, 1934; Stryker, 1968; Arnett, German, & Hunt,
2003). These different roles of multiple subidentities
might provide an account of why General Relationship
Quality signicantly inuenced Attendance Intention
but domain-specic Identication did not. Subidentities
such as a partner and supporter of the team are reected
in General Relationship Quality and these subidentities
are deemed naturally related to attendance behavior.
Therefore, these subidentities as components of General
Relationship Quality motivate Attendance Intention.
However, subidentities such as student and employee
are reected in domain-specic Identication and these
subidentities might not be pertinent to the attendance
behaviors. Hence, these subidentities as components of
domain-specic Identication do not signicantly inu-
ence Attendance Intention.
Reciprocity.  Domain specic Reciprocity explained no
variance in any of three behavioral intention dimensions.
However, the importance of Reciprocity should not
be disregarded solely based on this result. First, the
General Relationship Quality construct represents the
commonality shared among individual relationship
quality constructs (e.g., Chen et al., 2006). Our results
show that General Relationship Quality has a substantial
impact on all three sport consumption intentions.
Our results also indicate that the items representing
Reciprocity are comprised of this shared commonality
(i.e., General Relationship Quality), indicated by the
signicant factor loadings of the reciprocity items on
the General factor. Therefore, the results support that
Reciprocity is a key relationship quality construct
sharing commonality with other relationship quality
constructs. In addition, the results also provide evidence
that Reciprocity is a key predictor of important sport
consumption behaviors in that General Relationship
Quality, of which the Reciprocity items are a component,
has a strong impact on sport consumption behaviors.
Second, the purpose of the path analysis in this
study is not to maximize the overall predictive power of
the model, rather it is to better explain the nature of the
relationship between the relationship quality constructs
and the sport consumption behaviors. Therefore, selection
of constructs solely based on the increment in overall pre-
dictive power is not recommended, especially contingent
solely on one sample. In addition, the bivariate correla-
tions among independent variables as well as bivariate
correlations between independent variables and depen-
dent variables should be considered in their selection.
Furthermore, the theoretical basis for inclusion also needs
to be evaluated. Although domain specic Reciprocity did
not add predictive power controlling for other constructs
in the analysis, Reciprocity has strong bivariate factor
correlations with the other relationship quality constructs
and sport consumption behavior constructs (see Table
2), which is consistent with the literature on reciprocity
(De Wulf et al., 2001; Eyuboglu & Buja, 1993; Miller &
588 Kim, Trail, and Ko
Kean, 1997; Palmatier, 2008; Schwarz et al., 2005). These
results provide empirical support that Reciprocity is an
important relationship quality construct and predictor of
sport consumption behaviors.
Third, our nding suggests that each domain specic
factor might be related to some consumption behaviors
more than others. That is, it is plausible that domain
specic Reciprocity might be a meaningful predictor of
behavioral intention dimensions that are not included
in this study. For example, domain specic Reciproc-
ity might be a critical precursor of donations to sport
organizations, especially considering that feelings of
reciprocity signicantly affect motives for charitable
giving (Dawson, 1988).Therefore, the role of domain
specic Reciprocity could be better understood by further
exploring its relationship with donation behavior as well
as additional expected behavioral outcomes.
In this study, a conceptual model of relationship quality
was empirically tested and validated to better understand
sport consumer-team relationship quality and its inuence
on sport consumption behaviors. This study makes a
contribution to the current literature in a number of ways.
First, we investigated the cognitive structure of relation-
ship quality perceived by sport consumers toward a team
and found empirical evidence supporting the proposition
that Trust, Commitment, Intimacy, Identication, and
Reciprocity are essential components constituting sport
consumer-team relationship quality. Each construct
reects a distinct aspect of relationship quality but also the
common nature of relationship quality. The ve relation-
ship quality constructs will help researchers capture the
nature of the sport consumer-team relationship. On one
hand, each individual relationship quality construct with
its own characteristics separates the unique conceptual
dimension of relationship quality from the complex and
possibly vague concept of relationship quality. On the
other hand, the General Relationship Quality construct,
which is an amalgamation of multiple dimensions, is
more holistic and captures the overall strength of the psy-
chological bonds between sport consumers and the team.
Second, this study provides an empirical examina-
tion of a relationship marketing framework in the sport
consumption context. While the current studies on rela-
tionship marketing that exist in the sport management
area have advanced the conceptual understandings of
relationship marketing, few studies empirically examined
relationship marketing theories applied to the relationship
between sport organizations and their relationship part-
ners. Moreover, the authors found no previous empirical
investigation of any aspect of relationship quality in a
sport consumption behavior context. This study provides
empirical support for previous theoretical propositions
suggesting that the relationship metaphor would be appli-
cable to sport consumer behaviors and that relationship
quality would be a critical predictor of sports consump-
tion behavioral intentions. Hence, these empirical nd-
ings improve our understanding of relationship marketing
and relationship quality in a sport consumption context.
Finally, this study contributes to the cumulative
knowledge in sport management and relationship market-
ing. The conceptual framework tested in this study builds
on previous research on relationship quality, which is a
central concept in the relationship marketing literature
(Fournier, 1998; Roberts et al., 2003; Smit et al., 2007).
Given the paucity of research on relationship quality in
the sport management realm, this study enriches sport
management literature by adding an application of a
relationship marketing theory (relationship quality) and
empirical validation to the research on sport consumer
behavior. This study also augments the relationship mar-
keting literature by validating unique characteristics of
sport consumer-team relationship quality while empiri-
cally reafrming the benecial effects of relationship
quality on consumption within a sport consumer behavior
This study also has several managerial implications.
First, the empirically validated framework is helpful for
sport marketers who want guidance in understanding
and improving their relationships with sport consumers.
The model highlights the central components of sport
consumer-team relationship quality that must be moni-
tored and managed to successfully establish, maintain,
and enhance good relationships with sport consumers. By
identifying the key relational constructs, the framework
provides a roadmap for sport marketers to prioritize the
focal points of relationship marketing.
Second, this study empirically supports the widely-
held assumption in practice that a good relationship with
sport consumers is a critical factor for a successful sport
business. Managerial decisions based on the allocation
of resources for relationship marketing depend on its
capability to yield meaningful performance outcomes.
Sport managers need to know that the payoff obtained
from the investment in relationships with their consumers
is valuable. As found in this study, when sport consum-
ers perceive they have a good relationship with a sport
team, they intend to attend mores games, buy more team
licensed merchandise, and consume sport content related
to the team through media. Moreover, the strength of the
association between relationship quality and sport con-
sumption intentions was substantial. In sum, these results
indicate the value of establishing good relationships with
sport consumers. These relationships are crucial factors
in managerial decision making and, therefore, justify
considerable effort and investment to build and maintain
strong consumer relationships.
Third, this study also provides sport managers with
essential insights for human resource management. Due
to the nature of the sport product as a service, the inter-
actions between employees and sport consumers play
a major role in determining the quality of the teams’
relationship with their customers. For this reason, when
hiring personnel, managers need to consider if the can-
didates have the capability to properly interact with their
consumers. By incorporating the relationship marketing
Relationship and Sport Consumption Behaviors 589
framework in training programs, the managers can help
staff understand the importance of the relationship with
the consumers and perform activities related to relation-
ship development. In addition, managers need to keep
motivating their employees to actively engage in the
process because it will better enable them to develop and
maintain good consumer relationships.
Limitation and Future Research
Although this study has provided valuable insight into
understanding relationship quality, there are some limita-
tions that should be considered for future research. First,
although data were not collected entirely from students,
the majority of the participants in this study were college
students. This might limit the generalizability of the nd-
ings from this study. In addition, the context of this study,
a college football team, might also limit the generalizabil-
ity of the ndings. Therefore, the generalizability of the
ndings could be improved by using broader and wider
sampling frames in various sport contexts (e.g., profes-
sional football and women’s basketball) for future studies.
Next, deciding which specic constructs and mea-
sures should be used to best predict actual sport consump-
tion behavior has been a major issue. Using intention as
a measure to predict or explain actual behavior in this
study can be justied by the following theoretical and
practical reasons. First, many theoretical frameworks of
consumer behavior have conceptualized that intention is
a proximate psychological construct for actual behavior
(Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Warshaw, 1980). Second, uti-
lizing intention as a proxy of behavior is also justied
because it is a practical alternative to actual behaviors.
Third, there are reliable forecasting models to convert
intention to actual behavior that are now easily available.
Nevertheless, it is generally admitted that participants’
self-reported intention does not always accurately fore-
cast their future behavior and the strength of relationship
between self-reported intention and the actual behavior
is considerably inuenced by several factors (Morwitz,
Steckel, & Gupta, 2007). Therefore, a longitudinal study
is one approach which can provide stronger evidence for
the predictive capability of relationship quality regarding
actual sport consumption behaviors.
Finally, this study used behavioral intention mea-
sures (i.e., attendance, media consumption, and mer-
chandise consumption) focused on a general time frame.
That is, the behavioral intention measures used in this
study were not limited to a specic time frame (e.g.,
the next season). The main purpose of this study was to
better understand the inuence of relationship quality
constructs on behavioral intentions in general or over a
broad time period rather than a specic time period and
the general measures used in this study served the purpose
adequately. However, future researchers or managers
whose primary purpose is to predict actual attendance in
a specic time period might nd time-specic measures
more useful for the purpose. For example, Dan Gilbert,
the majority owner of Cleveland Cavaliers might want
to know the impact of Lebron James’ departure on the
fan-team relationship and ticket sales in the 2010–2011
season. Then, time-specic measures should be used to
better predict attendance in that particular season.
The extant literature and research ndings from
this study identify several interesting avenues for future
research. These avenues of inquiry provide sport man-
agement researchers ample opportunities. These include,
but are not limited to, the investigation of the following
• Is there a sequential order among relationship quality
If a sequential order exists, how are the relation-
ship quality constructs grouped and arranged in the
What are the most effective strategies to improve
relationship quality?
What potential moderators affect the nature of the link
between relationship quality and sport consumption
What are potential mediators that intervene in the
connection between relationship quality and its
What are the antecedents and other outcomes of
relationship quality?
Researchers are encouraged to explore the questions
above to provide a better understanding of the nature of
the relationship between team and sport consumers, and
the impact of the relationship on various sport consump-
tion behaviors.
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  • Article
    Purpose The purpose of this paper is to determine if the star power of an athletic endorser influenced consumers’ consumption of the advertised product. Specifically, does the amount of star power an athlete is thought to have impact consumers’ direct consumption of the advertised product and media consumption of the athlete? Moreover, the components of star power, along with congruency measures, were examined to determine which components of star power influenced both direct and media consumption. Design/methodology/approach Four advertisements were created that used an athlete with high star power and an athlete with low star power. Respondents viewed two of the advertisements, but did not know which athlete had high star power or low star power. They were asked to answer a questionnaire that contained questions pertaining to the components of star power (source attractiveness, source credibility, professional trustworthiness, likeable personality and character style), congruency of the athlete and product, direct consumption of the advertised product and media consumption of the athlete. Findings Results indicated that overall star power increased the direct consumption of the advertised product and the media consumption of the athlete, however not each component was found to be significant. Character style was the only component that was consistently significant across all four advertisements. The congruency between the athlete and product was also found to be significant across all four advertisements. Research limitations/implications First, this study only looked at two athletes; others may generate different results. Second, the products used in the study were fashion related; other categories of products may also generate different relationships. Third, only two brands were used. It was also assumed that the respondents knew the athlete in the advertisement. Finally, the questions used to measure direct consumption did not distinguish between buying the brand in the store or online. Originality/value This study has the potential to contribute theoretically by analyzing how and which components of star power affect consumption of endorsed products, as well as which components influence consumers. Moreover, adding a congruency measure will aide in strengthening the measurement of endorser effectiveness. The justification of the present study lies in the need to determine how the dimensions of star power an athlete possesses contribute to the consumption behaviors of consumers.