Neuromarketing in Sports

How Emotions strengthen the Consumers’ Perception of a Brand

Master's Thesis, 2011

148 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents



List of Tables

List of Figures

1 Introduction

2 Research Justification
2.1 Neuromarketing in sports: The current status of research
2.2 There is nothing like soccer - Soccer as the object of research
2.3 Combining neuromarketing with soccer sponsorships

3 Research Questions
3.1 First Dimension: Implicit Effects
3.2 Second Dimension: Sponsorship in Sports
3.3 Third Dimension: Brand Perception
3.4 Fourth Dimension: Different Consumers

4 TheoreticalFramework
4.1 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sponsorship
4.2 Sponsorshipinsports
4.2.1 Classification of Sponsorship into the Marketing Mix
4.2.2 Typesof Sponsorships
4.2.3 Constant Growth of Sponsoring Partnerships
4.2.4 Objectives in Sponsoring Partnerships
4.2.5 Risks in Sponsoring Partnerships
4.2.6 Target Groups in Sponsorships: The "Magic Square Circle"
4.2.7 Effects of sponsoring activities Important preconditions for sponsorship effects Involvement Arousal Controlling the effects of sponsoring activities
4.3 Neuromarketing
4.3.1 Defining a young and evolving science
4.3.2 The Black Box - Hunting the "Holy Grail" of Consumer Behavior
4.3.3 The Consumer's Black Box: Neurobiological Principles
4.3.4 Neuromarketing in Practice Brand Code Management Neuroscientific Research Methods Medical Non-Imaging Medical Imaging
4.3.5 Homo Oeconomicus - the classical principle in Economics
4.3.6 Criticism on the Homo Oeconomicus concept
4.3.7 The role of Cognition
4.3.8 The Importance of Emotions The Emotional Turn in Marketing - "I feel, therefore I am" Implicit vs. Explicit Processing - A definition Pilot and auto-pilot
4.3.9 Limbic® Map Emotions The biological role of emotions Emotions vs. Motives Motivational Systems inside a human's brain: Big 3
4.3.10 Limbic Types TheTraditionalist TheHarmonizer The Disciplined One The Open-Minded One TheHedonist The Adventurer ThePerformer
4.3.11 State of the art in Research of Implicit Effects on Brand Perception
4.3.12 AIDA hashad itsday

5 Methodical Approach
5.1 Research Design
5.2 The Experiment: Measuring implicit effects in sponsorship
5.3 Defining Brand Meaning and Brand Associations
5.4 Measured attributes as important element of Brand Personality
5.5 The Experiment's elements
5.5.1 The probands
5.5.2 Thestimulus
5.5.3 The measured attribute
5.5.4 Procedure of the experiment
5.5.5 Response Time Tracking/ 1
5.5.6 Limbic Type Categorization
5.5.7 Affinity to sports and the product category
5.5.8 Response Time Tracking/ 2

6 Results

7 DiscussionandConclusion

8 Limitations and Directions for Future Research


Online Sources


A Questionnaire (30 Limbic Type Questions)

B Questionnaire "Objectives of Marketing Communication"

C Total Output of Questionnaire "Objectives ofMarketing Communication"

D Tables (SPSS)


Until now, economic theory has not systematically integrated the impact of emotions on brand perception. Evidence from the evolving discipline of neuroscience suggests that decision-making is dependent on emotional processing. Interdisciplinary research under the label of "neuromarketing" arose. The key idea of this approach is to employ recent neuroscientific methods in order to analyze economically relevant brain processes[1]. This thesis offers an overview of the current state of neuroeconomic research by defining the concept of neuromarketing, explaining methods that are widely used and describing current studies in this new research area. The study which was conducted within this master thesis finally provides guidance for future research.

Several studies found that there are no separated ways for cognition and emotion in a human being's brain. Emotions are deeply connected with cognitive processing and thus, even are a crucial part ofhuman decision making.

Since more and more companies want to enhance their brands, products, and services with emotions, they are trying to use this important precondition and are engaging in sports sponsorships, because sports as such is considered the biggest and most emotional power in entertainment business[2].

Several authors claim that in addition there has rarely been coherent research for sponsorship in general - and if at all, then only regarding the awareness of the sponsoring brands. Also, companies are not really aware if they seize the high potential of their sponsorship activities. About 21% of companies that apply sponsorship strategies into practice do not even conduct a controlling phase. They are not measuring the achievement of their sponsorship objectives. Hence, they do not even know the success (or failure) of their strategies[3]. Does sponsorship in sports have significant effects at all? Does it help to increase a brand's image?

Only explicit measuring is very common in controlling the effects of sponsorship activities. The probands are being asked whether they remember one brand or another and how they rate it. Too often, however, the results are biased by many wrong preconditions, for example the Social Desirability Bias or that the sponsors only want to hear what they want to hear.

Consequently, the thesis refuses the usage of only this kind of controlling instruments. It suggests enhancing those explicit measuring methods by methods known from the emerging academic field of neuromarketing. That is why the empirical part of the thesis uses implicit methods, response time tracking, and thus goes one step further, in order to find out what the consumer really thinks and feels. The goal is to get a clue of how his Black Box processes sponsoring stimuli.

The thesis at hand is the first one that integrates the new and evolving scientific discipline of neuromarketing into the academic considerations of sponsorship in sports by conducting a study, a field experiment, with 103 German students in Germany that showed interesting results that confirm the existence of implicit effects in sponsorship.

Thus, the master thesis provides insights into a new field of research, neuromarketing. Further investigation into this area is therefore indispensable to gain better knowledge of the marketing tool of sponsorships. Instruments of neuromarketing are becoming an increasingly important source for the assessment of sponsorships.

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It is the Finals. It is all or nothing. The people have been looking forward to that event excitedly for months; the stadium is filled to capacity. But now, after hard-fought minutes, there has to be the penalty-shootout in order to find a winner.

The tension is radically noticeable; when I take the ball, it has become so quiet you can hear a pin drop. The fans that have been supporting me at all costs throughout the whole match now are focusing me, the shooter of the deciding penalty, and the ball.

With sweat beads on my forehand, I can feel my heart beat. But: I want to score and win the match - no matter what! It is all or nothing!

I start running... shoot... and... slam the ball with power and decisiveness into the goal - indefensible for the opposing goalkeeper. This was it, it is done! The match is over, the victory is ours!

While shooting the penalty in my mind again and again, I have to think of what would have happened, if I had not been able to stand the pressure. The situation was tense and nerve-racking, but the more I think of it the more I can enjoy this moment of having achieved my goal. This feeling compensates for all the strain.

Past experiences has already shown, in the future only this final moment and this decisive penalty will be remembered - however, a match is not (only) won by one single penalty and by one single player.

"The team is the star". Berti Vogts, former head coach of the German national soccer team, has coined this phrase in the 1990s and thus underlined the importance of every team member. Everybody in a team is the star, not only one single player. In 1996, he and his team won the European Soccer Championship with this premise. Nowadays, sustainable success can only be achieved with the support of others. That way, also the thesis at hand has been carried and supported by others that I would hereby like to thank.

Firstly, I would like to thank my personal "head coach", Dr. Patrick Cotting, who was demanding, supportive as well as fair at the same time, for his guidance, his permanent availability, his insights and his very useful advice where and whenever I needed it.

The success of the thesis is also deeply connected with the intoxicating and motivating support by the "spectators" and "fans". With the help of the "spectators", the participants of my empirical study, the thesis gained a scientific fundament that contributes to the further consideration of neuromarketing in sports also in future research.

Last but not least the "hardcore fans" shall be appreciated that have been giving me encouragement not only during the work on the thesis but have been standing behind me throughout all the years with power, support, and love. Especially, my brother Matthias and my parents Barbara and Reinhold deserve a special mentioning.

In order to be successful, the important support of "sponsors" like these is necessary; with such a backing it is simply not possible to miss a penalty. Thank you!

I wish that also you, the reader of my thesis, get fascinated by the exciting worlds of Sponsorship in Sports and Neuromarketing, and with all the knowledge, ideas and findings that you gain, in the end you also succeed in the penalty shoot-out. Good luck!

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Martin Fett, September 2011

List of Tables

1. Different dimensions of involvement during sport-sponsorship-activities

2. Characteristics of experimental research designs

3. Attributes that have been under consideration in a preliminary step

4. Example of data regarding evaluation for the attribute and time used

5. Thirty dichotomously answered questions

6. Group Statistics: Mean-Comparison of timing between the two groups

7. Independent samples t-test for the time comparison between Group 1 and 2

8. Group Statistics

9. Independent samples t-test for the evaluation of the three brands

10. Group Statistics

11. Independent Samples t-Test

12. Regression Model Summary

13. Coefficient Table

14. Coefficient Table

15. Descriptive Statistics average brand evaluation (Group 1), second measuring

16. Average brand rating after stimulus has been shown, by every Limbic Type..

17. Descriptive Statistics. Frequency Table of the whole sample

18. Descriptive Statistics. Frequency Table of Group

19. Descriptive Statistics. Frequency Table of Group

20. ANOVA (evaluation of all brands, Group 1, second measuring)

List of Figures

Figure 1. Possible reasons for the rise of importance of sponsorship

Figure 2. Public Viewing event in Germany

Figure 3. The paradigm of sponsorship in sports

Figure 4. Dimensioning of the Research Questions

Figure 5. The Perceptual Process

Figure 6. Classification of Sponsorship into the Marketing Mix

Figure 7. Total global expenditures of sponsoring partnerships (2003 - 2011)

Figure 8. Objectives of Marketing Communication

Figure 9. Overkill of sponsors

Figure 10. Several levels of affinity between sponsor and sponsee

Figure 11. Magic Square Circle

Figure 12. Classification of neuroeconomics and neuromarketing

Figure 13. Pillars of Neuroscience

Figure 14. Behavioristic S-R-Model

Figure 15. Neobehavioristic S-O-R-Model

Figure 16. Principle lobes of a human being's cerebrum

Figure 17. Motive Space of the brand Vodafone and a competitor

Figure 18. Two entities in our brain, "Pilot" and "Auto-Pilot"

Figure 19. Explicit and implicit image for Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank

Figure 20. Limbic Map: Connections of the motive systems with human values

Figure 21. Ozzy Osbourne vs. Prince Charles

Figure 22. The differences of explicit and implicit measuring methods

Figure 23. Henkel's corporate brand claim: "A brand like a friend"

Figure 24. Direct and indirect determinants of Brand Personality

Figure 25. Dallmayr Prodomo advertisement (1999)

Figure 26. Dallmayr Prodomo TV commercial (1999)

Figure 27. Logos of the brands used for the experiment

Figure 28. Stimuli that have been shown to the probands

Figure 29. Attribute Presentation

Figure 30. Aaker's Brand Personality Scale

Figure 31. Experiment set-up

Figure 32. Average evaluation time for the different brands between the two groups

Figure 33. Boxplot Diagram for the average evaluation of the different brands

Figure 34. Does the interest in soccer affect the mean of brand evaluation?

Figure 35. Regression of interest in soccer and the average evaluation of all brands

Figure 36. Average brand evaluation of all brands after the stimulus (Group 1 and 2)

Figure 37. Average brand evaluation of Group 1's first measuring

Figure 38. Average brand evaluation of Group 1's second measuring

1 Introduction

Today, more than ever before, the marketplace of advertising is characterized by an intense competition. The number of brands increases every year, as well as media and advertising impulses, which are constantly craving for the consumer's attention.

Although the international financial crisis had a negative impact on almost every industry and region since 2007, the global advertising marketplace has been capable of keeping its stability[4]. Classical advertising seems to be inevitable within the communication strategies of companies, but the global media-related, social, political and economic development has tightened the requirements concerning advertising and changed the communication policies in general drastically. An increasing overload of information, a free world trade and permanent international pressure of competition, substitutable goods on saturated markets, indifferent consumers, fragmented markets and target groups and a social value change force companies to face big challenges these days[5].

Considering the consumers' needs, we could come to the conclusion that on the basis of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, today's consumers have already satisfied their physiological needs - hence, other needs like self-actualization gain in importance. Zanger and Sistenich (1996) describe a change from a labor society that lived in order to work, towards a lifestyle- and experience-oriented society that works in order to live and gain new experiences[6].

The consumer, i.e. the recipient of an advertising message, of the 21st century constantly gets overloaded by the big amount of information he/she gets in contact with through classical instruments of communication. He[7]is only able (and willing) to perceive a fractional amount consciously[8]- the major part of this "shellfire" of messages is perceived in an unconscious manner. Skipping advertisements or zapping the programs on radio and television are the result of this perpetual bombarding with advertising messages and the lacking willingness of the recipient to apply to communication messages[9].

Thus, classical instruments of advertising lose more and more of their charisma and power[10]and a constantly increasing number of companies get involved in below-the- line activities in marketing[11], such as sponsorships. Not only big sports events (such as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympic Games) crucially depend on the cooperation with sponsors. Also, smaller associations, clubs, athletes, socio-cultural or educational institutions, profit from sponsoring organizations[12].

A sponsorship engagement can have manifold reasons and provides several advantages compared to classical advertising (see chapter 4.2.4 for a detailed consideration, and Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Possible reasons for the rise of importance of sponsorship[13].

As modern markets are mostly classified as saturated[14], Amstad (1990) states, the number of situations with low involvement of the consumer increases - so, products and services are rather interchangeable nowadays[15]. Almost every important factor of products has now been evened out. Hence, information that is non-factual gets more and more important for the consumer. The modern consumer makes his decision not only based on price, quality or performance. To successfully solve this marketing challenge, an "experience enhancement"[16]is recommended. Such an enhancement could be achieved with sports. Sport consists on one hand of emotions, suspense and surprise, joy and pride - but also of rivalry, defeat and disappointment on the other hand. Companies and organizations find excellent opportunities to distinguish from competitors by engaging in sports-sponsorship.

But which are the effects? Does sponsorship really have a positive effect on the targeted groups of consumers for the sponsoring brands and corporations? How does this effect look like? As the segment of sponsorship in sports is the biggest in terms of invested money and most popular one among all types of sponsorships, more and more sponsors try to find new ways to design their sponsoring activities in a more efficient and effective way and to better control the effectiveness by getting to know the "Black Box", i.e. the center of decision making processes of the consumers.

Here, the latest findings of the academic field of neuromarketing come into play. This young and interdisciplinary area of research as a mixture of cognitive science, neuroscience, and marketing can give new insights by applying diagnostic techniques as an addition to classical instruments of consumer behavior research. The increasing importance of the term for marketing practitioners and the interest in it can be seen through simple internet search. Google now finds over 1.5 Million results when you type in "Neuromarketing" as a keyword[17]. Ten years ago, you were not able to find even one result[18]. In realizing such a development, the question arises if this new area delivers relevant findings that are important for marketing practice and assists the companies in finding a successful strategy for their activities. The thesis therefore deals with the question, if neuroscientific methods can measure an (implicit) effect of sponsorship activities and thus gives important advice for practice and future research.

By applying neuromarketing research instruments, an experiment is conducted (see chapter 5) in which the probands had to evaluate the sponsoring brands "as quickly as possible", in order to capture instinctive (and thus implicit) evaluations and show the differences between explicit and implicit measuring results.

2 Research Justification

2.1 Neuromarketing in sports: The current status of research

The application of neuroscientific findings to the field of sports marketing is a terra incognita[19]so far. Although an increasing interest in neuroscientific problems can be noticed, still, a consistent definition is lacking, as well as empirical studies.

There are several scientific contributions in psychological literature and a few authors that have established a basis for neuromarketing in general, such as Hans-Georg Hausel, Christian Scheier and Dirk Held, Jens Falkenau, Peter Kenning and a few more other mainly German-speaking researchers. Thus, a big part of literature regarding neuromarketing is published in German.

Several authors claim that in addition there has rarely been coherent research for sponsorship in general - and if at all, then only regarding the awareness of the sponsoring brands. "Sponsorship practice has evolved rapidly, largely in response to the wide range of opportunities now available. However, this growth has been ad hoc and it has neither been structured by, nor resulted in, a clear understanding of how sponsorship works"[20].

Walliser indicates that empirical research of sponsorship effects is only at the beginning: The scientific analysis of sponsor recall, Walliser claims, is in its infancies. Regarding the image effects not even this stage has been reached[21].

As this thesis provides new insights into measuring image effects in sponsorships, and applies neuroscientific measuring methods to it, an important step out of the "infancy" in sponsorship effects can be accomplished.

Combining the investigation of sponsorship effects and the evolving discipline of neuromarketing thus is an exciting field of research and will be conducted with this thesis for the first time in English, and for the first time ever with an integrated study. Two Diploma Theses (at German universities) have so far worked on the field of neuromarketing in sports:

Marz, by interviewing experts, has investigated in his Diploma Thesis[22], if and how concepts of neuromarketing can optimize the process of Sponsorship Management. He came to the conclusion, that the implicit/unconscious methods of neuromarketing are able to verify effects that cannot be measured with explicit and conscious methods. Against the background that over 90% of the effects in communication takes place implicitly, those findings seem to be revolutionary. The usual measuring methods, such as recall tests, thus, are only able to show a little part of the actual effect and should therefore be complemented by implicit methods, such as response time tracking.

Also, Oidtmann, the author of the second Diploma Thesis[23]about the topic, concludes in the same way: Neuromarketing is not a fad, but rather offers a wide variety of different opportunities for application that will play an important role in sponsorship management in the future. Therefore, it seems to be inevitable and very reasonable to get to know more about emotional and unconscious processes and improve the management of professional sponsorship activities.

The thesis at hand deals with these circumstances and goes one step further: it currently is the first scientific paper about neuromarketing in sports in English and moreover the first one with an integrated field study, which investigates implicit effects of sponsorships.

2.2 There is nothing like soccer - Soccer as the object of research

Soccer events (besides the Olympic Games) attract the most attention among the public[24]. Soccer in total is the by far most popular sports on television. For example, in 2008/09 more than 2,800 hours were broadcasted only about the German Bundesliga on TV[25]. Live broadcasts and matches of the 2nd and 3rd Division as well as international events (such as the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League) or the German national soccer team are not included and would even increase that figure tremendously.

But not only quantity, also TV-rating points and market shares of soccer broadcasts regularly surmount all other entertainment broadcasts. Hence, soccer events are an attractive marketing platform - not only because of the media coverage but also because of the good quality of contacts to the sponsors' target groups.

The sponsors are able to seize the sympathy and fascination about soccer for their own purposes and transfer the positive attributes on the image of their products and brands. For example, every second soccer-interested person in Germany has a positive attitude towards companies that are active in sponsorship in sports[26].

Especially, depending on the cultural context, consumers are fascinated by the specific features of a particular sport Baseball, a team sports derived from the USA, has an excellent popularity also in Cuba, Venezuela or South Korea. In Europe however, only few people are attracted by it. Whereas soccer can be considered as the kind of sports that attracts people from different countries and cultures all over the globe[27][28]. Soccer as such can be able to remove demographic, sociocultural and geographic barriers. Young and old, rich and poor, well or poorly educated people - almost everyone views broadcasts of soccer games.

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Hence, the focus of the thesis at hand is on sponsorship in soccer - besides the fact that among sponsorship in sports soccer-related sponsees receive most of the sponsors' fees. Thus, attractive sponsorships are becoming more and more costly for the companies. In 2010, the main sponsors of the teams in the German Bundesliga, the highest national soccer league in Germany, paid over 135 Mio. Euros as a sponsorship fee[29]- more than ever before. Since most of the sponsorship deals are performance- related, the total sum has most likely been adjusted upwards[30].

Sports fulfill manifold basic needs for both the active and passive sports person. The passive sports person, i.e. a person that is not actively doing sports (or at least not on a regular basis) might be interested in sports for reasons of sharing his experiences and emotions with athletes or peers - whether at home in front of the television or in the stadium. According to Lagae (2005), the average supporter identifies very deeply with athletes who have obtained a high level of excellence[31].

Sport consumers are thus very likely to be involved in sport because of a personal identification with their "sporting heroes" and moreover an emotional attachment to the sport they are consuming.

However, with around 7.0 0 0[32]daily advertising impulses and more than 50.000 brands that are being advertised, a human being constantly gets bombarded with commercial messages of all kind and needs to process a big amount of them to make reasonable decisions. Today, the implicit system of a human being, i.e. unconscious information processing, is essential and more important than it has ever been before. In scientific research, the implicit perception of brands and its advertising messages have been underestimated so far and need to get more attention. The implicit system of a human being saves other and more facts about products and brands than the explicit system[33]. Therefore, this field of scientific research has a huge potential for advertising, sponsorship and brand management. Companies need to apply implicit methods for measuring the effects of their activities as well as finding out what the real attitudes and associations of the consumers are. Successful marketing particularly communicates with the implicit system that can also be referred to as the "auto-pilot", and only those who know and understand the system of the auto-pilot, can manage the behavior of the consumers.

The marketing instrument of sports sponsorship, with which (through the support of athletes, teams, clubs, associations, or events) corporations want to achieve their (communicative and financial) objectives[34][35][36], has to constantly put up with existential questions: Is engaging in sports worth the invested money and workforce? Does the engagement have any effects on the consumers?

During the last ten years, the expenditures for sponsoring partnerships have been doubling and now are at an all-time-high. This augmentation in investments has provoked the expectations in the instrument and particularly in economically strained situations the people in charge for sponsoring partnerships often are under the pressure to prove the profitability and effectiveness of cost-intensive partnerships. Based on this requirement, a professional exposure to the instrument of sponsorships is necessary.

2.3 Combining neuromarketing with soccer sponsorships

Many international companies use the findings of neuromarketing, in particular within the development and implementation of brand strategies, segmentation of target groups and measuring of communicative effects35 36. It already supports Marketing- Management and is able to optimize it. Thus, especially in sports sponsorship, this instrument could be used more effectively. In the following, we identify two arguments that reinforce this assumption:

Neuromarketing provides a sound basis for a better understanding of different consumer personalities and their demands (concept Limbic Map, see section 4.3.9) and shows how a more concise segmentation can be reached and how the target groups can be addressed in a more effective way[37]. It is important and one of the crucial success factors in sports sponsorship that the target groups are getting segmented and described as precisely as possible and the entire activities have to be aligned target- group-specifically[38]. This task can be optimized by using neuroeconomic findings and integrating them into sports sponsorship.

Moreover, based on the differentiation between explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) perception and processing in a human being's brain, the application of neuroscientific measuring methods has proven the effects of selected communication measures - even when the persons are not consciously attentive. While traditional market research only analyzes explicit effects of marketing messages, for example with a questionnaire about brand recall, methods of neuromarketing (e.g. Response Time Tracking) reveal implicit effects, that have not been investigated so far[39]. Within the sponsorship performance and efficiency control, sports sponsorship research has only been applying classical, explicit methods and thus is not able to fully capture the communicative effects[40]. Hence, the integration of neuroeconomic methods can expand the efficiency control of sponsorship instruments and further optimize the integration of the sponsorship tool as an instrument of effective marketing communication.

The thesis proves the existence of implicit effects in sponsorships and therefore provides evidence for this communication tool's right to exist and its importance in affecting the consumers' perception of the sponsoring brand or company. It answers the research questions that are being presented in the following chapter by providing insights into the theoretical framework of sponsorship and neuromarketing and also with the experiment in chapter 5.2.

3 Research Questions

With reference to Harold D. Lasswell's axiom of mass communication[41], a similar maxim can be postulated referring to sponsorship in sports to easily describe the different areas of sponsorship research and explain the focus of the thesis:

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Who says what (and supports whom) under which circumstances with which activities to whom in what channels in which area with which intentions, consequences, and effects.

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Through the elements depicted in Figure 3, the area of research within the thesis at hand can clearly be defined: In particular the consequences and (implicit) effects of sponsorship activities are in the focus of the present study.

The following specific research questions are the basis for the empirical part of the thesis, which is explained more in detail in section 5. In order to better illustrate the research questions, several dimensions can be derived from them which shall be analyzed in the following section.

RQ1: Is there an implicit effect ofsponsorship in sports?

RQ2: How does sponsorship in sports affect the consumer's perception on the brand?

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RQ3: How does this perception differ among different consumers?

3.1 First Dimension: Implicit Effects

When we talk about effects of sponsorship activities, the focus in scientific research has so far always been on measuring explicit effects, such as Brand Recall or an eventual Increase in Sales triggered by sponsorships. By implicit measuring methods such as Response Time Tracking, the objective is to explain the relationship between sponsorship messages and their effects on the consumers' brand perception in a more comprehensible way and not falsified by the Social Desirability Bias[42].

3.2 Second Dimension: Sponsorship in Sports

As mentioned in chapter 4.2.2, sponsorship in sports is the most popular among all the types of sponsoring partnerships[43] and therefore is at the center of considerations. Sponsorship in sports is seen as a non-classic instrument of marketing, that is according to Bruhn (2005), conducted on a give-and-take basis[44] between the sponsor,that can be a person, a company or an organization and sponsees, which are usually supposed to be athletes, sports teams, club, associations, or sport events45 46.

Although the objectives of sponsorship engagements can be similar to the ones of classical advertising, the ambience and the setting between those two types of marketing communication are completely different. In the leisure oriented world we live in, especially sports is connected to rather positive experiences for a big number of consumers and thus, many companies try to transfer those experiences to their brands and products and enhance them through the emotional power of sports.

Following the definition of the Council of Europe, sports involves "[...] all forms of physical activity - informal or organized - aimed at maintaining or improving the physical condition and the mental well-being, the making of social contacts and/or the achievement of results in competitions at all levels [„.]"[45][46][47]. So, sports per se have a very positive nature and aim to give a positive feeling to the people that are involved in it.

Based on Cotting (2000), also the term Experience World shall be introduced, because the Experience World of sports has the highest relevance for sponsoring and event­marketing[48]. An Experience World is created by natural and/or juridical persons, relates to several societal areas such as sports, arts, or social issues. It is affective, experience-oriented, and extraordinary, i.e. something special to which one feels connected, to some extent because of irrational reasons. Depending on the consumers' involvement and his connection to the event, the Experience World can be experienced in an entertaining, educational, escapistic or esthetic way. This experience also depends on the geographic, performance-oriented, emotional and/or temporal importance[49].

3.3 Third Dimension: Brand Perception

In accordance with the definition of the American Marketing Association which defined a brand already in I960 as "a name, term, sign, symbol [...], or a combination of them"[50], we also mean an identifying mark that distinguishes a product or a company from its competitors. With reference to the Brand Asset Valuator of Young and Rubicam Inc.[51][52][53], the core dimensions of a brand are formed by the following four elements52 53:

Differentiation: A brand needs to have a distinct performance which defines its right to exist on the market.

Relevance: A brand's relevance is reflected by the grade of personal involvement, with which the consumer reacts to the wide range ofbrand offers.

Esteem: The prestige of a brand correlates to its popularity and quality of its performance as well as the experienced presence on the market. This element answers the question how well the brand is regarded and respected.

Knowledge: An important element of brands is their emotional, irrational relationship to the consumers, and answers the question of how familiar and intimate consumers are with the brand.

Additionally, in searching for a definition of what a brand is it is illuminating to consider the differences between products and brands. A product can quickly be outdated and copied by competitors, whereas a brand is timeless and unique[54]. A product is bought for what it does (as long as it is not augmented by something else), but a brand goes beyond a functional benefit: you choose a brand for what it means to you. And while a product is on retailers' shelves, a brand exists in consumers' minds[55].

The focus of the present thesis is on the consumers' minds, it concentrates on branding through sponsorship messages and especially on the consumers' perception of it.

Kotler and Lane (2006) define Brand Perception as the consumers' ability to identify the brand under different conditions, as reflected by their brand recognition or recall performance[56]. So, the consumers' perception of a brand is an important prerequisite to build a brand's image. To fully understand the principles of brand perception, it is crucial to take a look at the perceptual process, as depicted in Figure 5.

The perceptual process is divided into several steps, of which the first one describes the Sensory Stimuli, firstly defined by Aristotle[57]. The Sensory Receptors translate physical energy coming from the environment into electrical impulses processed by the brain. The process of perception enables a human being to select, organize, and give those impulses a meaning, i.e. interpret them as objects, people, or threats[58]. The interpretation depends not only on the physical stimuli, but also on the stimuli's relation to the surrounding field[59]and on beliefs as well as feelings within the individual and thus is very subjective. Also, the cultural background of a person influences its perception of stimuli tremendously. The schema to which an object is assigned is a crucial determinant of how we choose to evaluate the object at a later time. The stages of Sensation and Meaning are important prerequisites for the process of perception as seen in Figure 5.

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Although closely related, sensation and perception play different roles in how we interpret the world. Sensation summarizes the immediate response of our sensory receptors to basic stimuli like light, texture, or smell. Perception means the process by which this information is selected, organized, and interpreted. Assigning meaning to those stimuli determines the outcome of the perceptual process.

Figure 5. The Perceptual Process.

Selective perceptual processes require active engagement and cognitive effort by consumers. A topic that is related to implicit brand building is subliminal perception. As depicted in the following chapters, the implicit meaning of brands nowadays is crucial and what is also known as subliminal advertising has been fascinating marketers for years now: Consumers are not consciously aware of these messages, but they are supposed to affect their behavior[60].

As a further step in clarifying what is meant by Brand Perception, it has to be noted that the term "perception" can have a much broader sense than just referring to sense perception. Rather, the term used in this thesis refers to the entire range of mental activities, including cognitive and especially emotional information processing. The perceptual process is an important prerequisite to build brand image.

Brand perception and Brand Image: Two sides of the same coin

According to Kotler and Keller (2006), brand image is "the perceptions and beliefs held by consumers, as reflected in the associations held in consumer memory"[61]and so it is obvious that the perceptual process, both explicitly as implicitly, is an important basis for the image building of every brand. Building a brand's image is done over time through several tools of integrated marketing communication with a consistent theme, and gets manifested through the consumers' direct experience.

3.4 Fourth Dimension: Different Consumers

Sports have a manifold and disperse[62]audience. Especially soccer is popular among almost everybody, regardless of whether young and adventurous people, old and traditional, or male or female target groups.

86% of the approximately 238 Mio Europeans older than 14 years are interested in sports in general[63], whereas soccer is the dominating sports in Europe. In total 137 Mio people (equals around 58% of the population) in Europe are interested in soccer, and in Germany even 70%o of the people older than 14 years[64]. Besides soccer, also Track and Field (52%o), Tennis (49°%) and Formula One (48%o) are important sports for the questioned Germans, older than 14 years. Overall, the passive and also active affinity to sports is more distinct with males than females. For companies not only the public interest in sport events is relevant but also the attendance as well as the coverage of those events. 29% of the Germans that are interested in sports claim to attend a sport event at least once a month. Over half of the people interested in sports like watching sport events on television[65].

Since a target group of sport events and broadcasts cannot be defined very easily, it is necessary to find another possible classification into consumer segments to better position the sponsors' brands in the consumers' brains. That is why the thesis at hand presents the classification into Limbic Types as a more fruitful segmentation of consumers by considering the different emotional personality profiles of the Limbic Map[66]. The Limbic Map can be seen as the "operating system" of a human being and consists of three basic emotion systems Balance, Dominance, and Stimulation. The former grouping, e.g. via socio-demographic segmentation, has proven to be too risky. Similarities of socio-demographic characteristics do not guarantee a similar consumer behavior at all. Rather, a deeper look on his emotion systems should be integrated into consumer research.

4 Theoretical Framework

Target groups of the 21st century have increased requirements and higher demands towards companies. According to the consumers, an "optimal" company shall not only offer goods, i.e. products and services, but particularly provide benefit for the society by taking corporate social responsibility and being a good corporate citizen[67]and part of the society[68][69][70]. Factual information about the features of a product still are a crucial part of the marketing communication, but the company's image and the environment in which it is present, are also very important for the company's success69 70.

Surveys conducted already in 1993 have delivered strong indications that companies profit significantly from being socially responsible. For example, 84% said they have a more positive image of companies that do something to "make the world better"[71], i.e. an ongoing engagement that goes beyond the company's normal field ofbusiness.

4.1 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sponsorship

The European Commission defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis"[72].

Sponsorship activities often have the primary purposes to increase the image and degree of brand awareness. The same is true for companies that pursue a CSR-strategy: they hope for a (long-term) advantage for the brand, the product and/or the company.

But, what is the difference between CSR and sponsorships? Within a CSR-strategy, the companies do not solely want to have a short-term profit-maximization for their shareholders. In fact, the demands of other stakeholder groups like employees, suppliers or customers shall be considered as well. Although it is hard to measure the success of CSR-activities, there is a win-win-situation for all of the company's stakeholders[73].

As we will furthermore see in chapter 4.2.4, sponsorship is a marketing instrument with which the sponsor wants to increase its awareness or image. According to the definition of the term[74], sponsorship deals per se do not only focus on the social interest. The success of a sponsoring activity is evaluated by the company particularly based on the achievement of the set objectives (such as higher brand awareness, new target groups or a profit increase etc.). If there is no (short-term) success, the sponsoring activity often is evaluated negatively and gets terminated. Although, the objectives of sponsorship contracts can be congruent with the ones of a CSR-activity, in Corporate Social Responsibility the marketing aspect is not too much focused. In addition, in a majority of CSR-activities, there is no service in return. However, the boundaries between sponsorship and CSR blur more and more, the higher the social relevance of a sponsorship deal is.

In the public however, sponsoring partnerships are perceived as being essential for the existence of sports and thus are seen as part or at least similar to Corporate Social Responsibility, which we also see in the following chapters.

Current scientific research, conducted by GfK Panel Services Germany and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, has discovered that consumers are demanding greater corporate responsibility from companies. Social and environmental responsibility even influences the purchase decisions of consumers. Consumers are even prepared to pay higher prices for products of a responsibly managed company. Therefore, it is absolutely reasonable for companies to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility into their business models and overall corporate strategy in a holistic manner. The study, based on a large survey of private households in Germany, confirmed and manifested what was found in the mid-90s: 40% of 2531 interviewed people in Germany in 1995 claimed they would buy products of a company with social engagement, if they were aware of it[75].

The majority of the German population therefore is in a positive mood when it comes to sponsorships engagements: 74% of the 14- to 69-year old Germans evaluate sponsorships as being good[76]. Over 90% claim that they consider sponsorship as being important for sports. Only a minority of 1% believes it is unimportant77. Even 70% of those who generally reject TV- and printed advertising because of its distinct commercial objectives have more positive feelings when it comes to sponsorship78, since it arouses the impression of giving a benefit to the public79. Half of the Germans that are interested in sports are attracted to brands that are engaged in sponsorships, 29% would additionally rather buy the product of a sponsor than one of a non­sponsor80.

Successful and attractive sports more and more depend on the engagement of companies: 78% of the Germans are convinced that without sponsorships German athletes or clubs are not able to keep up internationally81. Here, we see first evidence for positive preconditions for eventual effects of sponsorships. Sponsors are accepted as partners of the sport, their contribution is seen as essential.

Products and services have an increasing similar appearance; their characteristics seem to be more and more similar to one another82. As we have already realized, companies are forced to enter a strong competition of communication instruments to improve their brand positioning. They try to emotionalize their advertising and connect it with positive feelings and associations. But there are also risks inherent to this development: If every company now tries to enhance its advertising with (positive) emotions, do the products they offer still differ from one another? Doesn't the consumer also get bombarded with that kind of stimuli as well? Which communication instrument can help to reach a coherent product differentiation?

Non-classical communication tools seem to be the last resort out of this dilemma83 84. Using non-classical marketing activities by linking the company's performance with experience worlds (for example connected to sports) is one possibility to gain uniqueness on the market. Sponsorship and Event Marketing are one of the strongest instruments of this kind in marketing, also known as "Below-the-Line"-Marketing85.

The crucial difference to classical emotional advertising is the linkage to an existing event or cause, instead of being just fictitious like emotionally enhanced advertising is. Sponsorship can help increase sales, change attitudes and heighten awareness among (potential) customers. In addition, it can also make a contribution to the building and maintaining of relationships with consumers. No wonder, sponsorship became the promotional tool of choice for marketers for almost two decades now and continues to grow in importance[77].

Sponsorship now is not only an important part of corporate communication and marketing, but is even "one of the winners for years"[78]. Approximately three quarters of the 2500 companies with the highest turnover in Germany use sponsorships as an instrument in their communications mix[79].

This increasing importance and the reason for this increase is underlined by the „magic formula" of D'Alessandro (1993): "Consumers love events, corporations love consumers - this is a match made in heaven"[80].

4.2 Sponsorship in sports

Now that we have already discussed its importance and popularity, we have to clarify what is meant when we speak about sponsorship. What are the advantages for and the objectives of the sponsoring entities as well as for the sponsored ones? According to Bruhn (2005), the term Sponsorship in Sports summarizes the analysis, planning, realization and controlling of all activities, which are associated with the allocation of money, materials or equipment, services or know-how by companies and institutions to advance people and/or organizations in the field of sports in order to simultaneously achieve the intended communicative objectives[81]of the sponsor as well as the objectives of the sponsee which are usually widely spread.

The acquisition of rights, as the term is defined by Mullin et al. (2000), is used by the sponsor to mainly achieve its promotional objectives or to facilitate and support its broader marketing objectives[82].


[1]cf. Kenning & Plassmann 2005: p. 342

[2]cf. Kaiser 2010

[3]cf. Kuske 2010: p. 41

[4]cf. Trost 2009

[5]cf. Bihn 2006

[6]cf. Zanger & Sistenich 1996: 235

[7]Due to reasons of simplicity in reading only the masculine form is used in this Master Thesis.

[8]cf. Venter et al. 2005: p. 11

[9]cf. ibid.

[10]cf. Damm-Volk 2002: pp. 73

[11]See section 4.2.1 for further considerations about this type of activities.

[12]cf. Bruhn 2002: p. 49

[13]cf. Cotting 2000: p.8

[14]cf. Fett 2011: p. 8

[15]cf. Amstad 1990: pp. 91

[16]cf. Kroeber-Riel & Esch 2004: p. 37

[17]cf. Google 2011

[18]cf. Hubert & Kenning 2008: p. 274

[19]Terra incognita (Latin "unknown land") is a term used in cartography for regions that have not been mapped nor documented.

[20]cf. Hoek 1998: p. 1

[21]cf. Walliser 1997: pp. 47

[22]cf. Marz 2010

[23]cf. Oidtmann 2010

[24]cf. Sportfive 2011a

[25]cf. ibid.

[26]cf. ibid.

[27]cf. Conolly 2010

[28]cf. Karrasch-vom Steeg 2010

[29]cf. Bachmann 2010

[30]cf. Linnenbrugger 2005

[31]cf. Lagae 2005: p. 3

[32]cf. Bidmon 2005

[33]cf. Scheier 2008: p. 308

[34]cf. Bruhn 2003: p. 42

[35]cf. Hausel 2008: p. 61

[36]cf. Scheier 2008: p. 306

[37]cf. Hausel 2008: p. 78

[38]cf. Bruhn 2003: p. 35

[39]cf. Scheier & Held 2007a: p. 34

[40]cf. Bruhn 2003: p. 120

[41]In 1948, the American communication scientist Harold Dwight Lasswell postulated the "Lasswell- Maxim": "Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?". It describes the basic model of mass communication. Through this model, the area of research in communication science can easily be defined.

[42]The Social Desirability Bias is known in scientific research to describe the tendency of respondents to reply in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. The effect is common within social sciences and psychology.

[43]cf. Bruhn 2003: p. 25

[44]cf. Bruhn 2005: p. 811

[45]cf. Bruhn 2003: p. 42

[46]For the definition of the term and deeper considerations, see chapter 4.3.

[47]cf, Council ofEurope 1995

[48]cf. Cotting 2000: pp. 51

[49]cf. Cotting 2000: p.51

[50]cf. de Chernatony & Riley 1997: pp. 89

[51]A model ofbrand equity which was developed by the advertising agency Young and Rubicam (Y&R) is called Brand Asset Valuator (BAV). Based on extensive research, it provides comparative measures of the brand equity of thousands of brands across different categories.

[52]cf. Richter & Werner 1998: p. 27

[53]cf. Kotler & Keller: pp. 275

[54]cf. Batey 2008: p. 57

[55]cf. ibid.

[56]cf. Kotler & Keller 2006: p. 251

[57]cf. Batey 2008: p. 51

[58]cf. ibid.

[59]cf. Kotler & Keller 2006: p. 187

[60]Kotler & Keller 2006: p. 187

[61]Kotler & Keller 2006: p. 286

[62]A disperse audience is an audience whose individuals differ from each other regarding interests, ideologies, demographic, and other characteristics.

[63]cf. Holzschuh 2002

[64]cf. Sportfive 2011

[65]cf. ibid.

[66]see chapter 4.4.9

[67]cf. Backhaus-Maul 2008: pp. 14

[68]cf. Cotting 2000: p.2

[69]cf. Philipp 1997: pp. 42

[70]cf. Bruhn 2007: p. 200

[71]cf. Kotler &Lee 2005: p. 9

[72]cf. European Commission 2011

[73]cf. Schwerk 2011

[74]For further considerations, see chapter 4.3.

[75]cf. Anonymous 1995: p. 81

[76]cf. Sportfive 2003: pp. 18

[77] cf. Sportfive 2011

[78] cf. ibid.

[79] cf. Muller & Gelbrich 2004: p. 685

[80] cf. Sportfive 2002: p. 142

[81] cf. ibid.

[82] cf. Philipp 1997

Excerpt out of 148 pages


Neuromarketing in Sports
How Emotions strengthen the Consumers’ Perception of a Brand
University of Lugano
Sponsorship and Partnership Management - Corporate Communication
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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4225 KB
Martin Fett verfasst mit "Neuromarketing in Sports" die erste englischsprachige Arbeit, die Neuromarketing mit Sponsorship-Management kombiniert und mit einem aufwändigen Experiment wissenschaftlich fundiert. Er gibt damit einen idealen Einstieg in das neue und spannende Feld des Neuromarketing und gibt wichtige Handlungsempfehlungen, die Entscheider in sponsernden Unternehmen interessieren werden - aber auch dem Laien eine perfekte Übersicht in das weite Feld des Sportsponsorings geben.
Sport, Sportsponsoring, Sponsoring, Neuromarketing, Marketing, Unternehmenskommunikation, Fußball, Kaffee, Kaffeemarken, Experiment, Sponsorship, Management
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Martin Fett (Author), 2011, Neuromarketing in Sports, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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