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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
Marketers capitalize on 'fan' loyalty, June
30, 2006, 2D.
diehard members of The Gator Nation, April 4, 2006 was a
tremendous day. It was the day AFTER the University of
Florida men’s basketball team was named the 2006 NCAA
National Champions. Around the world, Gator fans received
notes and messages of congratulations for their team’s
victory. Some Gator fans posted signs and banners
announcing the victory in their office windows for people
passing by to see (no names mentioned).
college athletics, there are typically ties between the fans
and the teams that extend beyond just winning and losing.
Many people root for the teams of the schools from which
they attended or graduated. Professional sports teams are
different—they are businesses that depend on fans for
revenue. Professional leagues and teams generate tremendous
amounts of money from ticket and merchandise sales,
licensing fees, and advertising. Diehard fans can
experience emotional, psychological, and physiological
reactions when watching the games of their favorite teams.
Fans experience those reactions knowing that the players are
being paid (in some cases, millions of dollars a year) to
play for entertainment. In spite of that knowledge, fans
experience many of the same feelings of victory and loss as
the players who actually compete in the game.
Identity Theory gives some explanation for “fan”
involvement. When others know that you claim an association
with a group, the group’s successes and failures reflect
upon you in the eyes and minds of those who know you.
Individuals are able to share in the success of the groups
they identify with even when they contribute nothing to
performance. The Gator fans who watched the national
championship game on television, for example, had zero
influence on the team’s performance. When sports teams
lose, fans might also perceive themselves as losers in the
eyes and minds of those who know of their allegiances.
These processes can have positive and negative influences on
an individual’s self-esteem.
Marketers use concepts similar to social identity theory to
create demand and sales for their products. One way they do
this is to the pay sports heroes to endorse and promote
brands and products. Using a product that a celebrity is
known to use allows consumers to psychologically share in
the fame and success of the endorser. When ordinary players
put on the same brands of clothes that sports heroes wear,
some of the fame, celebrity, and success of the heroes
seemingly rubs off onto the ordinary players. Marketers use
these concepts sell things like clothing, shoes, deodorant,
drinks, underwear, cameras, and automobiles. When
celebrities and heroes do unfavorable things or stop winning
at their games, companies often drop them and look for new
stars to help endorse and sell future products.
all known to those with whom we interact as a composite of
individual and group identities. As members of business and
work organizations, we should be aware of the ways that
social identity theory might be used to help our
organizations create favorable images with consumers. As
consumers, we should be aware of the ways that businesses
and organizations try to use social identity theory to
elicit our business. And finally, Go Gators!
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