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Surf tribal behaviour: a sports marketing application

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to investigate "tribal" consumption behaviour and its relationship to branding, in the particular context of the surfing community in Portugal. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Two focus group meetings with "surfers" and "fans" respectively, in April 2006, were enriched by computerised projective techniques and program-assisted design (PAD) technology, backed by high quality video prompts. Qualitative data analysis was enhanced by quantified data collected in the PAD phase. The design was expressly directed at future quantification and model building. Findings ‐ Four research propositions, derived from an extensive literature review, were mostly confirmed: surfing does exhibit characteristics of a cult. There are three distinct types of adherent, their associative behaviour characterized by affiliation, social recognition, socialization and symbolism. Surfers and fans exhibit strong brand awareness and less strong preferences for surf-linked brands, in different ways. Research limitations/implications ‐ Interpretation is limited by the scope of the study: two focus groups in one country. There is some compensation in the richness of the data. Practical implications ‐ Marketers involved with cult consumers and tribal brands need a body of knowledge on which to base their marketing intelligence gathering and strategic planning. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides exploratory research findings related to one classic example of the tribal brand-consumption behaviour that accounts for significant consumer spending around the postmodern world.
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Keywords: Aquatic sports; Brands; Consumer behaviour; Marketing intelligence; Portugal

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-30

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