Getting Supporter Engagement in Sports: The Role of Digital and Mobile Marketing in the Real Madrid F.C.

Getting Supporter Engagement in Sports: The Role of Digital and Mobile Marketing in the Real Madrid F.C.

Veronica Baena (Universidad Europea de Madrid, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7617-4.ch007
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This chapter attempts to provide a better understanding of the impact that sport marketing is having on achieving customer engagement. To accomplish this goal, the case of the Real Madrid F.C., estimated at having over 200 million supporters worldwide, is analyzed. Moreover, the team is among the top three clubs of the world in terms of followers and engagement on social media. As regards brand value, the Real Madrid F.C. is worth more than any team in the world. The combination of the aforementioned factors made the Real Madrid F.C. the appropriate brand to choose for this study, representing a leading organization in sports, business, and marketing. A number of methods were used to collect data for this study; specifically, information about the team was gathered by repeatedly browsing its website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts, and apps. Data from interviews published in business press and posts were also compiled. Additionally, a focus group was conducted to discuss the customer engagement of Real Madrid's fans.
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Brands are a strategic choice for companies that operate in markets where technological innovation is a basic premise (Jensen & Beckmann, 2009). This is especially relevant in the 21st century, as due to the globalization of the economy, companies nowadays have the possibility to consider the entire market instead of just focusing only on their local region (Ratten & Ratten, 2011).

Regarding sports, globalization has enabled teams to expand their fan base throughout the globe. Specifically, teams are becoming increasingly commercialized, while at the same time sport entities have become more professional. Moreover, the distinction between fans (those who are highly identified with the team, coach, players, etc.) and spectators is crucial; as supporter fervor gives rise to an irrational rather than a rational economic way of consuming football (Rodriguez-Pomeda, Casani & Alonso-Almeida, 2015). To shed light on this issue, literature argues that good marketing plans should focus on and accentuate connection with the team in order to capitalize on this type of emotional attachment. However, only recently have researchers started to address the understanding of the brand-supporter relationships or consumer connections to brands (Wallace, Buil & De Chernatony, 2014; Baena, 2016).

Among the different constructs related to the brand consumer relationship, it has been posited that consumers may experience passion, obsession and dependency in particular (Fournier, 1998). More recently, brand commitment has been found to be positively linked to desirable post purchase behaviors among satisfied customers (Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006). Nevertheless, to date, most literature within the field of sports branding has been limited to the area of brand equity or brand extensions, and little research has examined the relationship between supporters’ emotional attachment and branding strategy (see. i.e., Baena, 2017b).

Particularly, prior sports literature has conducted single case studies to analyze Manchester United as an example of network orchestration (Shaw, 2007), David Beckham as a brand (Vincent, Hill & Lee, 2009); the brand elements and local inspiration of FIFA World Cup (Weszka, 2011); the global marketing strategy of Bayern Munich (Baena, 2017a); or the effect that CSR practices carried out by the Foundation Real Madrid may have on brand love (Baena, 2017b). However, to the author’s knowledge, very scant literature has addressed the analysis of branding strategy to achieve fan commitment. To achieve this goal, this chapter attempts to contribute to the identification of the effects of cutting-edge digital and mobile marketing on the emotional relationship to a sports brand.

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