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What Influences Fans to Consume Sports?

By: Evan Fraser


Day after day, the average sport consumer is immersed within the world of sport marketing. Sport enthusiasts consume sport for a variety of reasons. One may prefer their sport consumption to come through competition while others lean towards fandom and the viewership of amateur and professional sport. However, it is not very often that people examine the reasons as to why people consume sport and what motivates them to engage in it on a regular basis. Sport consumer behaviourists in academia have done their part to study why individuals consume sport, which has caused those that work in the sport industry to take notice.

According to Bernard Mullin, Stephan Hardy and William Sutton in the text Sport Marketing, one of the most influential factors affecting one’s sport consumption is based upon their relationship with others. It is the people that we hold close ties with that often sway our sport consumption decisions. Family members, coaches, teachers and close friends are just a few examples of individuals that people tend to look up to. Therefore, these are classic examples of people that likely influence the types of sports a specific individual consumes. An example provided in the Sport Marketing text examined how professional wrestling fans became inspired to consume the sport. 27.3% of fans claimed to have fallen in-love with the sport on their own, while the remaining surveyed individuals admitted that they became interested in the sport through the influence of friends and family members. (To read more about the topic of sport marketing from the text Sport Marketing written by Mullin, Hardy and Sutton, use this link to find a copy).

The environmental factor of a person’s relationship with others is a major reason as to what sport’s a person gravitates towards. Nevertheless, there are certainly other obvious factors that help sway someone to consume sport in any type of capacity. Impersonal relationships with reference groups, heroes and role models also play a significant part in one’s decision making process regarding sport consumption. For example, a young sports fan may have the opportunity to meet a professional sports athlete at an event that their family is attending. Without ever being a fan of the sport prior to the event, that young fan may decide to consume such a sport by playing or watching from that day forth because of the lifetime memory that was made.

Similar relationships can be fostered through the use of social media. We are seeing a shift in the sports industry where sports fans, typically of a younger demographic, are consuming a large majority of their sports content via social media postings, announcements and videos.A survey conducted in 2019 by Capgemini found that 67% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 27 said that they often chose to view sports content through social media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. By viewing highlights from various amateur and professional leagues, individuals are constantly bombarded with content that cannot be ignored. Through consistent viewership, leagues and teams are finding unique ways to market their sport product to fans to ensure that such sport consumption stays at an all-time high year after year.

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