Meir, RA 2009, 'Tribalism, team brand loyalty, team brand value and personal/group identity in professional Rugby football', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright RA Meir 2009
Tribalism is an axiomatic characteristic of sport consumerism yet there does not appear to have been any attempt in contemporary sport marketing research to measure this phenomenon. This thesis develops measures of tribalism, team brand loyalty, team brand value and personal/group identity in English and Australian professional rugby league and rugby union fans. These measures (constructs) have not been developed previously in regard to these sports. Combinations of qualitative and quantitative research techniques were used in this thesis research (i.e. a multi-method approach). The primary research method involved the development and delivery of a comprehensive online survey that was distributed via selected club (N = 7) web sites to a total of 2,214 self-proclaimed fans of either an English or Australian professional rugby league or rugby union team. A total of 1,649 (74.5%) respondents completed the survey exclusion question. These survey responses were then used to develop and test measures of identified constructs using a Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) programme. Using the two-step approach to SEM, measurement models and their associated observed indicator variables were initially developed for each construct with acceptable model fit indices (χ², CFI, GFI and RMSEA) for each model. Determination of validity and reliability for each of the scales used to measure the constructs was established prior to examining a final structural model. Acceptable model fits for each construct indicated that the sets of items (indicators) were unidimenisonal. These construct measures were then used as inputs for a structural model based analysis – step-two of the SEM process, which involved the development and assessment of the structural model that specified the interrelationships between the constructs. An acceptable structural model was found and the relationships between the various constructs were identified. A series of concurrent tests on pairs of fan responses (multiple group analysis) from English and Australian rugby league and rugby union fans was then used to test if the indicator loadings (indicator items loading on to a construct) were essentially the same for both sets of data. This similarity was found to exist for tribalism, team brand loyalty and social-identity, which were all invariant (p > 0.05 i.e. no difference between groups) for English rugby league compared with English rugby union, Australian rugby league compared with Australian rugby union and combined rugby union compared with combined rugby league fan groups. However, the self-identity construct was found to be only partially invariant for English rugby league compared with English rugby union fans and not invariant (p < 0.05 i.e. different between groups) for Australian rugby league compared with Australian rugby union and combined rugby union compared with combined rugby league groups of fans. The brand value measurement model (construct) was found to be not invariant for all groups of fans. Because the brand value construct was not invariant a reduced model was developed for English rugby league and rugby union fans that did not include the brand value construct and its adequacy of fit was established. A further reduction was made by deleting the construct of self-identity, which measure was not invariant across rugby league and rugby union fans. This model was then used to test for differences between Australian rugby league and rugby union fans and combined rugby union and rugby league fans with the model determined to be adequate. The results of the tests of these models were then used to assess differences between these different groups of fans in regard to tribalism and its relationship with the remaining constructs. This thesis research developed a range of construct measures and has tested their adequacy of fit for the sports of professional rugby league and rugby union. The relationship between these measures and their relevance to the marketing of these sports and to sport marketing more broadly is also discussed in the thesis.