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This study examined the experiences of individuals engaged in sports consumption of a favoured team or sport, and further examines if this consumption experience is in any way affected by the presence of commercial sponsorships. While studies of experiential consumption have been carried out before, this is the first study to examine the possible impact sponsorship has from an experiential consumption perspective. Sponsorship is a broadly managerial activity from a marketing perspective. Sports consumption has been shown to be a predominantly experiential activity (Holt, 1995), yet marketers attempt to target sports supporters through regular marketing channels. But a better understanding of the “experience” of supporting a team could aid a sponsor to ensure their message is properly received by the required target audience. The use of phenomenological enquiry is particularly appropriate in this research because only through a first-hand understanding of an experience is it possible to uncover the elements of that experience that are most important to the individual consumers (Thompson et al, 1990. Following a pilot study, the research was framed around six phenomenological interviews which were both recorded and transcribed. The interviews were initially examined through the framework of the Interpretive Group which enabled themes to be identified. The author then proceeded with a hermeneutical analysis of the interviews, and the emergent themes are presented. The interviewees were introduced to the favourite team by family or friends. For all but one of the interviewees, the highlight of their support was match-day and attending matches. All of the interviewees were striving to become “authentic” supporters. They consumed various forms of media in an attempt to maintain their “authenticity” and the role their team played in their lives, was reflected in their awareness and consumption of sponsors. Only some sponsors managed to get into the “hearts and minds” of the interviewees.
McAllister, G.: Experiential consumption and sport sponsorship: a phenomenological investigation. Masters Thesis. Dublin Institute of Technology, 2004.