Assignment on Marketing Sports Event
The purpose of this assignment is to analyze and study different motives that can attract spectators to attend Melbourne Cup Carnival event, which is held in Australia every year. Number of research studies has been carried out over the years to highlight the factors and motives that drive the consumers towards a certain event. MCC is popular not only in Melbourne, but all across Australia and neighboring countries. The event is held each year which attracts people all around the World and combines solidarity, fashion, social gathering and horse racing all together. Purpose of the cup has significantly evolved over the years which is no longer a simple racing event. MCC has become one of the most enjoyable events in spring season.
Numerous researches on the spectators who attend sporting events resulted in claiming a number of different motivational factors which attract fans towards the sports. Authors including Eastgate and Funk (2005); Crompton (1979); Gitelson and Kerstetter (1990); have mentioned that spectators attending sports seek entertainment, excitement, socilaisation, adventure, relaxation, exploration and satisfaction. Coghlan and Williams (2001) conducted a study on horse racing events. They found that business and income are the main factors in motivating people to attend the horse racing event. Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS) was developed by Wann in 1995. The scale measures 8 different motives of attending the sport event. These motives include self esteem, escape from stress, entertainment, economy, group affiliation, family, eustress and aesthetic. Some of the potential motives along with their relevance with MCC are discussed below:
One of the most common motivational factors for spectators to follow a sport or attend a sporting event is loyalty with the team or sport itself. In recent times, consumer loyalty has been considered as one of the most important area in any business or sport. According to Jacoby and Chestnut (1978), the behavioral outcome of a customer’s inclination for a defined brand selected from a set of other brands within a specified timeframe is the result of a calculated and thought-through decision process.
Melbourne Cup Carnival is one of the major sporting events in Australia which is being followed by millions of people around the world. Spectators who love horse racing are loyal to the sport and do not need any attraction or incentives to watch the sport. Hence, loyalty factor plays an important role in motivating the spectators to attend the event. People who follow horse racing and similar events are not affected by the ticketing costs, entertainment level, facilities and other factors.
Fans or spectators involvement in a game sometimes varies with the moods and emotions which are influenced by the team or group results. Eisler (1997) presented a scenario of sports fans whose emotions depended heavily on his team performance; with team loss the fan faced great emotional distress. Sloan (1979) in his study mentioned that sport events can affect spectator’s emotions directly. These emotions can be positive such as happiness, satisfaction and can be negative as well such as frustration, de-motivation etc.
Melbourne Cup event also involves fans who are directly involved in horse racing and betting. Spectators who attend this event are very much attached to the sport and support their group or individual enthusiastically. Therefore, emotional factor is important in this event as well as fans’ emotions can be devastated if the individuals they are supporting lose the race.
Corbin (1973) claimed that sports cause the fans to feel substantial arousal and adrenaline. This arousal can be due to involvement in the game such as cheering, yelling or supporting and are in the form of songs, music, dance and chants. Sloan (1979) also mentioned that attending a sporting event can cause violent arousal. Physical involvement by spectators in sporting event is rare and requires committed fan group or adrenaline in the sport itself. Horse racing is known for its unpredictability and close contests. Hence, it brings a great sense of physical arousal when a spectator supports any group or individual. These adrenaline and actions motivate the spectators to watch the event live rather than on television. The physical presence in this event is usually more than other events like cricket, hockey etc.
Social class has significant influence on the sport and its following. Underwood, Bond and Baer (2001) explain further that sports like polo, golf, tennis and horse racing are considered to be a game for the higher class. These games are watched and played by people belonging to certain social class in most of the cases. Similarly, Melbourne Cup Carnival is also considered to be one of the elite events yet it is watched by spectators belonging to all classes. This factor is also relevant to some extent in the MCC event. However, it cannot be considered as a major factor due to the fact that marketing strategies are focused to target spectators belonging to all social classes rather than higher-class people. Certain features such as entertainment, food etc attract people from the middle class as well to attend the event.
Entertainment is considered to be one of the most important factors in motivating spectators to attend a certain sporting event. Due to this reason, event managers make all possible efforts to introduce new and unique entertainment features in a sporting event. Over the years, many sports have developed different forms of entertainment to increase the attendance of fans. As an example, T20 cricket was introduced in cricket which is relatively a shorter format match and takes roughly 3 hours to finish a match. Entertainment features such as dance at every boundary, live music, BBQ stalls and colorful kits have been introduced to increase the entertainment level in the event. As per Nicholson and Pearce’s theory (2001), the primary reason for attending a sports event is the theme of the event along with the specific attractions and activities that are part of the event. Similarly, MCC also involves entertainment value to attract the spectators towards the event. The key features that can attract spectators include music, restaurants, fashion exhibitions, child play area, and pictures with the winner etc.
Sporting events are typically attended in the company of friends, supporter groups etc. People plan with their friends or family to attend a particular game. Based on the need theory of Maslow, (1998), this is an important motive. This factor is very relevant to MCC event as families and friends attend the event in groups and spend the day together in an entertaining environment. Typically, horse racing stadium is not congested and does not require the spectators to sit on their seats for the complete game, thus fans have the liberty to enjoy with their friends and visit the restaurants while going through the event. Also in the theory of social identity, as explained by Mehus and Kolstad (2011), gives a feeling of team identification and elevation of self when the favorite team of player wins. Thus in the case of MCC it may hold true and is a relevant motivating factor.
As Andrew & Olivier (pp. 215-228, 2010), economic value refers to an interest in sport based on the potential financial return from betting on its outcome. Horse racing is known for its interest in betting all around the world. Hence, this factor is very relevant in relation to the MCC event. Spectators attend the events for the purpose of business and betting. These spectators are not affected by entertainment level or facilities, rather they are focussed on the racing directly.
For many people, the sports they play are essential in portraying their self-image, and this may explain the increasing interest in more unique and riskier sports such as sky diving, mountain climbing etc. This is yet another component of Maslow’s (1998), need theory of spectators. However, in the case of MCC event, self-esteem is not a vital motive to attend this event. Although there are certain physical features in horse racing, yet it is not considered to be a game of youth and does not bring a sense of attraction among the children as well.
Currie (2011), explains that a modern, safe and comfortable stadium can help offset some of the ‘costs’ (e.g. time and effort) a fan encounters when sacrificing the comfort of their couch to watch the game live. Factors fans use to assess the ‘value’ of a stadium. Although, MCC event is not held in a close stadium, yet this factor plays an important role in attracting the spectators. These include food quality, cleanliness of the area, parking availability, crowd control and security etc.