What Sponsors Really Want: An Investigation of Sponsorship Decision-making and Choice

Margaret Johnston (2008). What Sponsors Really Want: An Investigation of Sponsorship Decision-making and Choice PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Margaret Johnston
Thesis Title What Sponsors Really Want: An Investigation of Sponsorship Decision-making and Choice
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-11
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 291
Total colour pages 8
Total black and white pages 283
Subjects 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary ABSTRACT Much is known about the process of sponsorship selection with respect to the key personnel involved in the buying decision and also about the strategic objectives for sponsorship. However, few investigations have focused on how sponsors assess the relative value of different sponsorship activities. This research project examined sponsorship decision-making with reference to the way managers discuss, think, and act when evaluating a sponsorship property for the first time. It focuses in particular on understanding how sponsors make decisions when selecting a new activity; how perceptions of risk influence their choice behaviours; the relative value they attribute to different sponsorship features; and how individual factors influence their choice of sponsorship domain. This research program considered these issues from three dimensions (1) linguistically (i.e. how firms publicly describe and explain their sponsorship selection procedures to others); (2) cognitively (i.e. how sponsorship experts describe and rationalise the decision process); and (3) conatively (i.e. how sponsorship managers report they behave when making sponsorship selection decisions). First, Study 1 explored the linguistic dimension of sponsorship selection through a content analysis of the sponsorship policies and guidelines of 298 global, national and local firms. The content analysis of these documents was conducted using Leximancer text analysis software. The analysis revealed six attributes were particularly important. These were the cost of sponsorship rights fees; the capacity of the sponsorship to achieve brand marketing objectives; the opportunities for brand exposure; the sharing of values between partners; the type/domain of the sponsorship activity; and its geographic reach. Firms avoided activities likely to damage their corporate or brand image by alienating sections of the community or by violating social norms. Next, Study 2 explored the cognitive dimension of sponsorship through a series of in-depth interviews with 16 sponsors and 20 properties. Interviews revealed that while practitioners supported the importance of attributes similar to those identified in Study 1, they placed more emphasis on the duration of the sponsorship agreement, the partner’s reputation and sponsorship management ability, and on the level of involvement, and less emphasis on shared values and geographic reach. Risk assessment was implicit in their due diligence practices. Risk mitigation strategies included risk avoidance, risk reduction, risk retention, and risk transfer. Study 3 examined the conative dimension of the sponsorship selection process using a full-profile choice-based conjoint (CBC) experiment completed by 196 sponsorship managers. The respondents evaluated 17 sets of fully-randomised fictitious sponsorship proposals constructed using the attributes identified in the previous two studies. Hierarchical Bayes (HB) analysis showed that the degree of fit with brand objectives, the duration of the sponsorship, and the perceived quality of the partner relationship exerted the strongest influence on sponsor preferences. Specifically, sponsors placed the highest value on sponsorships that offered a very high fit with their brand objectives, a one-year agreement, a good partner relationship, were cause-related, had a State-wide reach, involved a title sponsorship, a combination of cash and in-kind payment, and offered print media exposure. Finally, to examine the influence of individual factors (i.e. gender, the level of decision-making authority, and experience in decision-making) on the choice of sponsorship domain (i.e. sport sponsorship, arts sponsorship, cause-related sponsorship, and celebrity endorsement), three sponsorship simulations were conducted as part of Study 3 using Share of Preference modelling. The results showed that cause-related sponsorship was the most strongly preferred domain in each of the three models, whereas celebrity endorsement was the least preferred. While female managers were indifferent to arts or sport sponsorship, male managers showed a strong preference for sport sponsorship over arts sponsorship. Managers were less interested in sport sponsorship than more senior executives. The preferences of managers with the least experience were consistent with those of highly-experienced sponsors. However, managers with 11-15 years experience showed much less interest in sport sponsorship than others. Conceptually, this program of research allowed for the development of a decision-making model that provides the basis for future investigations of sponsorship value. For the practitioner, the results of this research support previous findings about the significance of sponsorship activities having a good fit with the sponsor’s brand objectives. As well, properties with a good reputation for building high-quality sponsorship relationships will find favour with new sponsors.
Keyword sponsorship
conjoint analysis
hierarchical Bayes
Additional Notes Colour pages: 93, 117, 119, 145, 146, 147, 148, 283 Landscape pages: 55, 56, 65 A3 pages: None

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Created: Tue, 03 Mar 2009, 12:04:12 EST by Ms Margaret Johnston on behalf of Library - Information Access Service