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Internationalisation and sport branding strategy: a French perception of the Big Four brands

Nicolas Chanavat (Centre de Recherche et d'Innovation sur le Sport (CRIS), Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), Villeurbanne, France)
Guillaume Bodet (School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 4 September 2009




The purpose of this paper is to provide better understanding of potential foreign customers or satellite fans' perceptions of professional‐football brands, as this constitutes a necessary step toward setting up an internationalisation strategy to create a global professional‐sport brand.


Twelve semi‐directed individual interviews with French satellite fans about how they perceive the English Big Four brands of Arsenal Football Club (FC), Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Manchester United are conducted.


The paper found the common and specific features of each club's brand equity and the typical fans' perceptions of the clubs, which constitute major dimensions upon which the clubs are differentiated in the customers' minds. It also identified such key antecedents to building strong professional‐sport brand equity in the French market as the fit between the image, the values or both of the foreign club and the local club a fan supports.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation is the size of the sample, even if the saturation‐semantic criterion is applied.

Practical implications

This paper emphasises the need for professional‐sport clubs not to underestimate the need for strategic‐marketing steps different from those used at home before implementing foreign marketing operations and constitutes a first step toward future research into the analysis of the perceptions of potential foreign customers or satellite fans in broader contexts.


Although many studies have dealt with the perception of local professional‐sport brands, this paper represents one of the first empirical studies of the perceptions of professional‐football brands in a foreign market.



Chanavat, N. and Bodet, G. (2009), "Internationalisation and sport branding strategy: a French perception of the Big Four brands", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 460-481.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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