Consumers' responses to sponsorship by foreign companies

Yue Meng-Lewis (Media School, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Des Thwaites (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Kishore Gopalakrishna Pillai (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 11 November 2013



The study aims to explore the novel issue of how consumers perceive sponsorship initiatives by foreign companies and how the sponsors' country-of-origin (COO) cue may influence sponsorship outcomes.


The measurement model and proposed relationships were tested based on a sample of 811 Chinese consumers using confirmatory factor analysis and structural path analysis.


The results reveal that attitudes toward the sponsor completely mediate the effect of event involvement on willingness to buy from the sponsor (WBS). Attitudes toward the sponsor also partially mediate the relationship between economic animosity towards a specific sponsor's COO and WBS. Additionally, the level of a country's economic competitiveness found to moderate the negative relationship between economic animosity, attitudes toward the sponsor and WBS.

Research limitations/implications

The nature of the product type and the desire of the consumer to own such a product may have influenced the measurement of willingness to buy.

Practical implications

The research adds to the existing knowledge by identifying the opportunities and potential biases that a foreign company may encounter when considering sponsoring a mega sport event in a different cultural context. The study helps managers to understand how sports sponsorship could be used effectively in emerging markets.


The proposed conceptual model advances the application of classical conditioning theory, the consumer animosity model of foreign product purchase and the belief-attitude-intention hierarchy in the sponsorship arena. It is the first investigation of the role of event involvement and economic animosity in understanding sponsorship responses.



The authors are grateful for the constructive comments of two anonymous referees.


Meng-Lewis, Y., Thwaites, D. and Gopalakrishna Pillai, K. (2013), "Consumers' responses to sponsorship by foreign companies", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47 No. 11/12, pp. 1910-1930.

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