Guest editorial


Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 11 October 2011



Ratten, V. and Ratten, H. (2011), "Guest editorial", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 8.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Volume 26, Issue 8

Sport is an international business orientated industry. Sporting organizations offer a number of marketing campaigns to businesses and organizations in order to compete globally. An important part of the sport industry is retaining and attracting businesses and organizations (Farrelly and Quester, 2005). Sports clubs do this by offering a variety of different marketing ideas designed to attract different business demographics. It is vital for academics and practitioners in the sports industry to understand which business and industrial orientated factors are the most successful in encouraging business and organizational loyalty. The aim of this special journal issue is to understand in more detail the way business and industrial marketing works in the sports industry.

In the United States sport is the eleventh largest industry and impacts many other sectors such as technology, tourism, retail and education (Danylchuk et al., 2008). Much of the marketing that occurs in the sport industry is business related as sports teams such as those in the NBA, NHL and MLB market their products and services to other businesses (Irwin et al., 1999). Likewise non-profit sporting organizations and universities market themselves to corporate sponsors. The way sporting companies and organizations utilize marketing strategies to businesses differs from the way they interact with the general public (Wolfe et al., 2002).

Often the business and industrial marketing that occurs in sporting organizations revolves around international brand management and global networks (Olkkonen, 2001). International business-to-business marketing is an important part of the global economy (Johnston and Spekman, 1995). The aim of this special journal issue is to encourage debate on issues related to business and industrial marketing from diverse sporting industry contexts from around the world. Particularly interesting is the difference between business-to-business marketing

in emerging and developed economies (Pels et al., 2004). This special issue examines how a company or organization in the sports industry or involved with sports markets its goods/services/ideas to another company or organization. Contributions to this special issue present new theories or research about business and industrial marketing in the sports context. All types of research paradigms including case studies, qualitative and quantitative analysis, conceptual and empirical research are included in this special issue.

The topic of international business-to-business marketing in the sport context is a relatively new yet important area of business and sport management research. The concepts of being an international business and at the same time having business-to-business relationships is a core part of value creation in many sports organizations. Sports companies engage in international relationships by offering beneficial services that apply to both customers and suppliers. The most effective international partnerships are also the most important in creating value through their underlying activities. New technological innovations such as mobile electronic book readers and television devices have further strengthened the importance of international sports marketing in the business-to-business context. These changes in the international marketing arena raise an important practical question: how do businesses create and maintain international sports partnerships? Anecdotal evidence from sports companies like Nike, Under Armour and Reebok suggest that international markets have become more important in facilitating business process management. These sports companies have strived to increase their market share internationally partly as a result of reconfigurations of their business-to-business relationships many of which take the form of supplier and marketing partnerships. Most international sport companies strive to understand the global business environment in order to better support and develop their business connections. In our original call for papers, we proposed that the answers to understanding international sports marketing can be understood through the following questions:

  • What is the quality of business-to-business marketing is in the sports industry?

  • How to plan business-to-business marketing in sports?

  • What are international comparative examples of sports business-to-business marketing?

  • How to market successfully in sports?

  • What are the latest and most innovative business-to-business marketing practices in sports?

  • What important insights into sports-based business-to-business marketing behavior are there?

  • How does non-profit business-to-business marketing differ to profit business-to-business marketing in sports?

  • What competition in sports does there exist between business-to-business marketing firms?

  • What distribution channels are involved in selling sports related products and services to other businesses?

  • What is the role of media distribution in sports?

  • What does new product development between sporting organizations and other businesses contain?

  • How to organize sports marketing for international growth?

  • What types of relationship marketing exists in sports?

  • How can you manage a successful sales force in sports?

  • What is the buying culture of sports related products?

The papers selected for inclusion in this special issue give a both academic and practitioner perspective of international sports marketing and answer some of the above mentioned research questions. There are six papers in this special issue and the next sections will discuss the role of each paper in the special journal issue on International Sport Marketing.

The first paper titled “A stakeholder approach to international and national sport sponsorship” by Rodoula Tsiotsou uses an interesting approach to evaluate sport sponsorship impact. The paper highlights how the rewards from most sport sponsorship deals for companies usually occur in the long term rather than through short-term market-based transactions. The paper discusses the role of having proper sport sponsorship leveraging activation strategies that take time to implement. In addition, the paper stresses that for sport sponsorship to have the most beneficial marketing outcomes both financial and non-financial performance objectives need to be taken into consideration.

The second paper titled “The impact of relationship quality on attitude toward a sponsor” by Yu Kyoum Kim, Yong Jae Ko and Jeffrey James discusses the importance of relationship quality amongst sports organizations. As there are a variety of small, medium and large organizations that sports firms collaborate with it is important to maintain the right partners in the international environment. Moreover, the paper stresses that it is quality not quantity that is an important determinant for future marketing success of sports organizations.

The third paper titled “Sponsorship-linked marketing: a set of research propositions” by David Nickell, T. Bettina Cornwell and Wesley J. Johnston discusses how sports organizations utilise the international environment to facilitate their sponsorship activities. The paper examines the importance of sponsorship to the sports arena by focusing on the changing marketing communications utilised by many large sports companies. The paper illustrates the gradual increase in reliance by sports marketers in focusing on customer segmentation and buyer retention in the international marketplace.

The fourth paper titled “The dynamics of relationship marketing in international sponsorship networks” by Joe B. Cobbs illustrates the changing and sometimes volatile nature of sports companies that have international relationships, which is particularly important given recent events like the Global Financial Crisis. As this paper alludes to it is important for sports organizations to constantly monitor the international business environment for possible alternatives and future business partners that they can market their sponsorship agreements more successfully.

The fifth paper titled “The influence of sport leagues on the business-to-business marketing of teams: the case of professional road cycling” by Tim Benijts, Wim Lagae and Benedict Vanclooster discusses international applications of business-to-business sports marketing relationships. As there are a variety of sports associations including the professional road cycling association operating at both national and international levels, it is important for sports marketers to recognize the international opportunities for organizations associated with these professional leagues.

The sixth paper titled “International sport marketing: practical and future research implications” by Vanessa Ratten and Hamish Ratten discusses the importance of having an international lens when investigating international business-to-business sporting relationships. The paper highlights the role of both profit and non-profit sporting organizations to collaborate across national borders in order to succeed in the international marketplace. Moreover, the practical implications for international sport marketers are addressed in this conclusion paper.

In conclusion, we would like to thank very much Wesley Johnston for his help and the many reviewers who helped with this special issue and gave generously their time and guidance on international sports marketing.

Vanessa Ratten, Hamish RattenDeakin Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Australia


Danylchuk, K.E., Doherty, A., Nicholson, M. and Stewart, B. (2008), “International sport management: creating an international learning and teaching community”, International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, Vol. 4 Nos 2/3, pp. 125–45

Farrelly, F.J. and Quester, P.G. (2005), “Examining important relationship quality constructs of the focal sponsorship exchange”, Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 211–9

Irwin, R., Zwick, D. and Sutton, W.A. (1999), “Assessing organizational attributes contributing to marketing excellence in American professional sports franchises”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 33 Nos 4/5, pp. 314–28

Johnston, W. and Spekman, R.E. (1995), “Special section on international industrial (business-to-business) marketing”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 19–20

Olkkonen, R. (2001), “Case study: the network approach to international sport sponsorship arrangement”, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 309–29

Pels, J., Brodie, R.J. and Johnston, W.J. (2004), “Benchmarking business-to-business marketing practices in emerging and developed economies: Argentina compared to the USA and New Zealand”, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 386–96

Wolfe, R., Meenaghan, T. and O’Sullivan, P. (2002), “The sports network: insights into the shifting balance of power”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 55 No. 7, pp. 611–22

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