South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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Engagement as a source of positive consumer behaviour: a study amongst South African football fans

Frederick W. Stander, Leon T De Beer


Football in South Africa (SA) has enjoyed significant commercial growth in recent years. No research has been conducted on the properties of fan engagement of South African football fans. In this study, the reliability and validity of the Fan Engagement Scale (FES) in a context of South African football fans were explored. Further, the potential of fan engagement as a predictor of positive consumer behaviours (match attendance and merchandise expenditure) was evaluated. Participants were 806 football fans who support various teams in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Information was obtained through self-report measures that participants completed. The research was conducted at stadiums during football matches. A cross-sectional, quantitative research design was implemented. Structural equation modelling revealed a reliable and valid three-factor structure for the FES. The structural paths between fan engagement and match attendance, as well as fan engagement and expenditure on team merchandise, were established. The results strengthen the theory of fan engagement, which flows from customer engagement theory by providing contextual literature specific to South African football fans. A case in terms of the need for focused fan engagement strategies to further promote the industry was put forward and a number of strategies were proposed.

Key words: Fan engagement; Customer engagement theory; Consumer behaviour; Structural equation modelling; Football; South Africa.

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