Although the practice of building brand equity in the context of professional sport teams is popular, the formation of sport team brand equity in the sport marketing literature is still relatively unknown and incompletely understood. In this study, the authors propose a dualidentification model to examine the formation of sport team brand equity in an Asia-based professional team sport setting. Baseball fans (N = 548) of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan participated in the self-administered survey. A Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Model analysis revealed that marketplace characteristics (including group experience, salient experience, team history, and fan rituals) and brandidentified-related factors (including self-congruity and team brand prestige) were significantly related to identification with sport team and identification with sport team brand, respectively. In turn, both identification with sport team and identification with sport team brand were significant predictors of sport team brand equity. These findings highlight the importance of studying a dual-identification model in order to understand how sport team brand equity forms and suggest implications for sport team managers.
Sport – an important type of hedonic service industry (Hightower, Brady, & Baker, (2002)) – has become increasingly commercialized and lucrative (Sainam, Balasubramanian & Bayus, 2010) around the world. In the Western context, for instance, football teams attract many fans who attend matches as their major leisure activity (Biscaia et al., 2016; Theodorakis et al., 2013). With the flourishing of sport competitions (Sainam et al., 2010), the success of a sport team not only requires fan support but also branding as champions (Stokburger-Sauer & Teichmann, 2014). To some extent, developing and managing brand equity is especially crucial for professional sport teams (Biscaia et al., 2016). Several European professional football teams have done a good job in regard to this strategy. For example, the English soccer club Manchester United was recently ranked the sport’s number one brand with a value of US$1.21 billion (Brand Finance, 2015). Although the practice of building brand equity in the professional sport team context is not new, initial scholars in the sport marketing literature with regard to the creation of brand equity focus on providing an initial understanding of how a team’s brand equity can be conceptually built (Gladden & Milne, 1999; Gladden et al., 1998; Ross, 2006) or can be measured (Bauer, Sauer, & Schmitt, 2005; Biscaia, Correia, Ross, Rosado, & Maroco, 2013; Biscaia et al., 2016; Ross et al., 2008; Ross, 2006). Many researchers have depended on social identity–based identification (Boyle & Magnusson, 2007; StokburgerSauer & Teichmann, 2014; Underwood, Bond, & Baer, 2001; Watkins, 2014; Wear et al., 2016) to investigate the effects of single, specific targets of identification on sport teams’ brands or brand equity in a variety of sport contexts. However, these researchers have separately, rather than simultaneously, considered how different targets of identification contribute to sport team brand equity in the professional sport context. Given that sport fans can develop their identification with multiple targets (Ashforth & Johnson, 2001), they not only identify with the sport team itself (e.g., Gwinner & Swanson, 2003; Katz & Heere, 2016) but also increasingly tend to perceive team brands as potential identification targets (Stokburger-Sauer & Teichmann, 2014). Accordingly, it is important for sport team managers to know that these two targets of identification from unique sport fans can exist concurrently when creating sport team brand equity.