Title: Consumption of niche sports: understanding which product attributes predict consumption across different levels of team identification

Authors: Jason M. Simmons; T. Christopher Greenwell; Dustin F. Thorn; Marion E. Hambrick; Greg Greenhalgh

Addresses: Department of Sport Management, University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Box 18F, Tampa, FL 33606, USA ' Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, HP/Studio Arts 103, Louisville, KY 40292, USA ' Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Management, Coastal Carolina University, Williams Brice, Room 151A, Conway, SC 29528, USA ' Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, HP/Studio Arts 104, Louisville, KY 40292, USA ' Center for Sport Leadership, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1300 West Broad St., P.O. Box 842003, Richmond, VA 23284, USA

Abstract: Niche sports seldom command the sponsorship or media dollars of their mainstream counterparts, depending instead on direct revenues generated from their fan bases to sustain their business. Given niche sports' consumer bases are often comprised of a significant percentage of lesser-identified customers, the purpose of this study was to examine differences in perceptions of niche sport attributes between highly identified and lesser-identified sport consumers. Specifically, this study examined which niche sport specific attributes were most predictive of consumption (frequency of attendance, media consumption, and merchandise consumption) for each segment. Using a sample of 410 minor league baseball consumers, this study found that accessibility predicted consumption for both consumer segments. The primary differences were that player similarity predicted consumption for lesser-identified respondents, while star power predicted consumption for highly identified fans. Affordability was negatively related to media and merchandise consumption for the lesser-identified spectators.

Keywords: team identification; niche sports; minor league baseball; MiLB; product attributes; sport consumers; fan base; consumer perceptions; niche sport attributes; attendance frequency; media consumption; merchandise consumption; player similarity; star power; affordability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2013.059723

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2013 Vol.13 No.3/4, pp.239 - 256

Available online: 07 Mar 2014 *

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