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Sport team loyalty: integrating relationship marketing and a hierarchy of effects

Rodoula H. Tsiotsou (Department of Marketing & Operations Management, University of Macedonia, Edessa, Greece)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 9 September 2013




Given its importance in the brand management of sport teams, the present research initiative primarily concerns the investigation of the formation process of sport team loyalty. By integrating a hierarchy of effects model into a relational perspective, the study aims to investigate the role of sport consumers' involvement, self-expression, trust and attachment with a sport team in building loyal relationships. A conceptual model is proposed and tested in the context of professional soccer teams.


The data of the study comes from 287 consumers of a South East European country. The fit of the model is tested using structural equation modeling and the statistical program LISREL.


The results confirm that: all the hypothesized constructs constitute either direct or indirect determinants of sport team loyalty; a hierarchy of effects approach, cognition-affect-conation, can explain how strong consumers-team relationships can be developed; and team attachment acts as a partial mediator in the relationship between the cognitive components of the model (team involvement, trust and self-expression) and team loyalty.

Practical implications

The findings provide several implications to marketing managers of sport teams in how to go about and develop loyal sport fans.


No previous investigation has integrated relationship marketing with a hierarchy of effects in order to explain loyalty to a sport team.



H. Tsiotsou, R. (2013), "Sport team loyalty: integrating relationship marketing and a hierarchy of effects", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 458-471.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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