Team identification and African Generation Y students’ perceived brand personality of Premier Soccer League teams
Shezi, Nkosinamandla Erasmus
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There has been a significant amount of growth in soccer game attendance and media coverage since the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in South Africa was established in 1996. However, match attendance started to decline from the 2013 season. PSL teams need to do something to get the fans back into the stadiums. A stable fan base is of vital importance for a team’s competitive advantage since the growing commercialisation of sport. The South African PSL is no exception and teams need to comprehend the importance of loyal fans. Team identification is linked to higher game attendance and more fans that are loyal and, therefore, it is relevant to the PSL teams. Higher game attendance will increase the teams’ revenues through ticket sales. Highly identified fans are loyal fans and increase the likelihood of better sponsorship deals for a team. Higher levels of team identification with a team could be obtained through a unique brand personality. Brand personality is necessary for sport team managers in order to understand fans’ perception regarding a team brand. As such, managers will be able to better position the teams’ brand and reach the target market accordingly. In South Africa, members of the Generation Y cohort made up 38 percent of the country’s population in 2014 (Statistics South Africa, 2014:9), which in terms of its size, make this cohort a highly relevant market segment. Generation Y, specifically African Generation Y, represents an important current and future market segment for PSL teams. This study focuses on the student segment of the Generation Y cohort. Given that a tertiary qualification generally is associated with a higher future earning capacity and a greater role model status within a society, university students are likely to be of particular interest to marketers. The main purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of African Generation Y students’ perceived brand personality of South African PSL teams on their PSL team identification. The study used an adapted version of a team identification scale (Swanson et al., 2003) and sport brand personality scale (Braunstein & Ross, 2010) to measure the perceptions. The sampling frame for the study comprised the 26 public registered higher education institutions (HEIs) situated in South Africa. The study used one traditional university and one university of technology located in the Gauteng province. A non-probability convenience sample of 450 full time African Generation Y students was taken from the two HEIs. Of the questionnaires completed, 438 were usable. The statistical analysis of the collected data included exploratory factor analysis, descriptive statistical analysis, correlation analysis, regression analysis and independent sample t-tests. The findings suggested that Generation Y students exhibit a positive level of team identification towards their favourite team. Generation Y students perceived their favourite PSL team more hard working, confident, respected, skilled and successful. The results also suggest that the level of team identification with the PSL teams could be predicted by two dimensions (successfulness and ruggedness) of brand personality. Generation Y male and female students only differ regarding the perception of two of the brand personality dimensions (successfulness and sophistication). The findings of this study contribute to the limited literature available concerning the level of team identification and brand personality perceptions of sport teams in the South African context. The study shed light specifically on the level of team identification and brand personality perceptions of Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. These were the top two teams identified by the respondents. These findings will assist these PSL teams to understand the brand personality perceptions of the team amongst African Generation Y fans better. The study also indicates some relationship between brand personality and team identification. The results suggest teams can use their brand personality to influence team identification amongst fans positively. These results can be used to assess and alter their current marketing strategies.