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Casual Observers, Connoisseurs and Experimentalists: A Conceptual Exploration of Niche Festival Visitors

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Although “amateur spectators” as a growing segment is mentioned in a number of special interest event studies, our understanding of their behaviour is still limited to case-specific descriptions, and convenience explanations. This paper attempts to conceptualize and explore further the segment of “casual observers” by integrating several non-adjacent theoretical areas. This endeavour intersects festival and event motivation studies, sport marketing literature and sporting subcultures from leisure sociology. Following a mixed method methodology, the paper presents both qualitative and quantitative data to illuminate attendee characteristics of a special event, namely, the world's largest extreme sports festival. Results indicate that beyond two previously documented motivational inclinations directed at the sport or the event respectively, there exists a third type of visitor (experimentalists) who are mostly motivated by attaining intrinsical goals, such as identity construction by consuming “fetish” items at a niche festival. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the marketing potential of this group and discusses the implications for event sport event segmentation.

Keywords: Festival and event motivation studies; extreme sports; leisure sociology; qualitative; quantitative; sport marketing literature

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Aalborg University, Denmark

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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