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Consumer Behavior in Sports

Essay by   •  April 28, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,327 Words (10 Pages)  •  2,358 Views

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Expectancy Theory

Introduction

Marketing and commercialization of multiple spheres remains the distinctive feature in modern society, and has proven to play a key character in consumer buying behavior. Studying the science of consumer behavior has become a major function of marketing, as marketers must have the best possible understanding of the segments they're interested in selling to. Consumer behavior is defined as "the set of value-seeking activities that take place as people go about addressing realized needs." Identifying those "needs" and motivating consumers to purchase one thing versus another is arguably the key focus of the marketing profession.

Over the past fifty years, marketing innovations have become especially apparent in professional sports. The development of sports marketing, specifically the addition of food and drink concessions, has substantially stimulated the attractiveness and entertainment of professional sporting events. Concession stands first appeared in movie theaters nearly a century ago, and were added to sporting events during the 1930's as a way to increase revenue during an economically challenging time period (Gomery, 1992). Concession stands have now become a signature part of sporting facilities and have proven to excite revenue sales.

Each consumer who finds him or herself at a concessional stand is offered a variety of food and beverages to choose from and is confronted with a difficult decision. Marketers seek to simplify this decision. According to Victor Vroom's Expectancy Theory, each individual's behavior "results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain." The expectancy theory affirms that individuals have different sets of goals and can be motivated if: they believe that there will be a positive interaction between the efforts and performance, the performance will result in a desirable reward, the reward will satisfy a need, and the desire to satisfy the need is strong enough to make the effort worthwhile (Vroom).

In the following research we will analyze both the expectancy theory and the relationship it shares with concession services at professional sporting events. We will explore consumers' demands and behaviors, as well as the buying patterns that exist. Furthermore, concession stands continue to expand and have both positive and negative aspects, which will also be discussed. If the right atmosphere can be created at the ballpark, a team with a mediocre record can still manage to draw in considerable crowds and enjoy the ensuing profits.

Literature Review:

Expectancy theory is the most commonly accepted of the consumer behavior theories. Also known as disconfirmation theory, it proposes that consumers enter into a consumption experience with predetermined cognitive experience of a product's performance. There are two types of disconfirmation that play an important role in effectively explaining consumer satisfaction. The first type is positive disconfirmation, occurring when performance perceptions exceed what was expected. The reverse holds true as well. When performance perceptions are not up to par, negative disconfirmation is said to occur. Positive disconfirmation leads to consumer satisfaction and negative disconfirmation results in customer dissatisfaction (Babin, 2008).

While it is generally agreed that expectations are a key factor in post-purchase consumer perceptions, differences of opinion on the actual process of expectancy disconfirmation exist. Some argue that disconfirmation "exists implicitly whenever expectations are paired with disparate performance" while others claim it is a "comparative process culminating in an immediate satisfaction decision." To others still it is a distinct cognitive state that results from the comparison process and precedes a judgement on satisfaction of the consumer. Research done on early dissonance theories (Watts 1968; Weaver and Brickman 1974) argued that the consumer makes an implicit summary comparative judgement both apart from and as input to their satisfaction, suggesting that the effects of expectancy/disconfirmation theory may be additive (Oliver, 1980). Consumers build pre-determined standards based on expectations and past experiences to form the frame of reference in which they ultimately make a decision on their personal satisfaction as a consumer.

From a marketing standpoint, consumer expectations include those pre-consumption beliefs of what will occur while consuming that product, with two components; the first being the probability that something will occur and the second being an evaluation of that occurrence potentially happening. There are four types: predictive, normative, ideal, and equitable expectations. Predictive expectations are those that consumers form about what they feel will actually occur during the experience. Normative expectations take past experiences with a product or service into account. Ideal expectations are the consumers preferred outcome given optimal conditions and equitable expectations include those outcomes that the consumer believes fair given the amount of work he or she put into the experience (Babin, 2008)

Research Method

Victor Vroom's expectancy theory is a very interesting topic to do a project on, due to the fact that it is certain events that add up together in order to meet a certain goal. The way that we demonstrated this theory in our project was to include sports within the project somehow, because everybody in our group enjoys everything to do with sports. By choosing expectancy theory as our group concept, it made us think how the expectancy concept is relevant to the marketing world of professional sports and the fans who attend the games. Here we will review the connection we made with sports fans at Sonoma State University campus. Our main goal was to discover whether or not going to a professional sports event leads an individual to buy expensive food at the game, in which leads to the goal of feeling more a part of the sports atmosphere. In relation to the expectancy theory, the first step is for an individual to attend a sporting event. This would lead into the second step of the individual being hungry, and realizing most of the surrounding fans that are undoubtedly having a good time and are involved in the game all have food and beer in hand. These two steps will then make an individual want to go to the concession stand and buy that eleven dollar beer, and ten dollar hamburger just to have the same satisfied feeling as the people around them

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