Athlete Brand Image: Scale Development and Model Test Abstract The purpose of this study was to test

a conceptual Model of Athlete Brand Image (MABI). The proposed model consists of three dimensions and multiple sub-dimensions; (a) Athletic Performance (Athletic Expertise, Competition Style, Sportsmanship and Rivalry), (b) Attractive Appearance (Physical Attractiveness, Symbol and Body Fit), and (c) Marketable Lifestyle (Life Story, Role Model, and Relationship Effort). To test this model, the Scale of Athlete Brand Image (SABI) was developed. A total of 402 college students participated in the survey and formed the sample for data analysis. Results of a confirmatory factor analysis suggest that the SABI is a reasonable fit to the data and the proposed model is psychometrically sound. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

n. Attractive Appearance. (i. Gladden & Funk’ Team Association Model (2002) and Ross. the purposes of this study are: (a) to test a conceptual Model of Athlete Brand Image (MABI). there are some brand image studies available in the sports team context [e. MABI consists of three generic dimensions (i. Role model. Although research directly examining the athlete brand image is limited. Therefore. some of the image factors identified in the endorser studies can be applied to our study. Therefore. 2005). Bauer. Method To test the MABI. and Marketable Lifestyle) which are described by ten sub-dimensions. Competition Style.g. (Bauer.g. Symbol. recently. (b) to develop the Scale of Athlete Brand Image (SABI). The strength of brand image is documented in branding research where brand image has been found to have strong influence on consumers’ brand loyalty creation. performance) and usually consumers cannot directly communicate with star athletes. 2008. Table 1 presents definitions of these dimensions. Life Story. Rivalry. a Model of Athlete Brand Image was proposed (MABI: Arai & Ko.e. Because Athlete and celebrity endorsement research have attempted to examine the image that make the celebrity or athlete effective product endorsers. coaches. Body Fit. industry executives and prestigious sports organizations maximize their earnings potential and build strong personal brands” IMG. Sportsmanship. . Relationship Effort). there are many agencies available which clearly state branding as their primary job (e.S. we help hundreds of elite athletes. Sauer & Exler.. 2001). Among the 427 returned questionnaires. “Today.Introduction In sports marketing research. but as cultural products that can be sold as “brands” (Gilchrist.. and (c) to provide theoretical and practical implications..).e. James and Vargas’ Team Brand Association Scale (2006)] that can be applicable to our study to help us identify sports specific brand image factors.. then we generated the items and developed the scale and finally we tested the scale items for its psychometric properties.. we selected the proper sample. 2005) A subsequent question then involves the type of images related to the development of brand equity given that overall importance in brand equity in brand management. 402 were complete and therefore included in the data analysis. However. sports celebrities are considered not only as vehicles for product endorsement. Literature review Different from products or corporate brands. administering the instrument to college students at a large university located in the Southeast region in the U. In particular. Sample Characteristics A purposive sampling method was employed. 2009). The brand management strategy for athletes has been rarely studied in academia. Athletic Expertise. Identifying brand image dimensions is an important task for understanding the brand equity creation mechanism. Physical Attractiveness. In fact. Athlete or celebrity endorser studies can also assist with the understanding of the athlete brand image phenomenon. However. Based on the extensive literature review and a free-thought listing survey. branding studies have just begun. theoretical understanding of athlete brand image has rarely been examined.d. athletes’ brand elements are intangible (e. Many athletes started their own personal branding using those agencies. the branding of an athlete is about image (Cordiner. Sauer & Schmitt. sports celebrities have proven to be effective endorsers. in sport marketing field. Athletic Expertise.g.

scale items for each construct were considered reliable for the intended population (Nunnally & Bernstein.94 (Athletic Expertise). and clarity. Panel members were 25 graduate students within the sport management program at the primary researcher’s university. On the basis of the review and synthesis of relevant literature. leaving a final set of 31 items. Data Analysis Procedures The efficacy of the proposed model and psychometric properties of the scale were analyzed using SPSS 18. Second.56 at p <.e. The instrument was revised based on the results from the panel of experts.. Because the existing scales are not directly measuring the individual athletes’ brand image.001. & Sharma.91. Bearden. Cronbach’s alpha ranged from . James. The first step in the scale development process was the generation of a list of items for each component of the athlete brand image. .062. Athletic Performance.Item Generation and Scale Development Procedures For the purpose of this study. 1990). Results Results of the Measurement Model Test The data were first subjected to further scale purification using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Through this process. the researchers developed a Scale of Athlete Brand Image (SABI). and Celebrity Endorser-Credibility Scale (Ohanian. the overall model was examined whether the athlete brand image could be viewed as higher order factor to the three dimensions.062) indicated that the measurement model has a good fit to the data. the researchers began with an assessment of content and face validity through a panel of experts and a field test. Based upon the results of the pilot test. the values of all indices (χ2/df = 991/387 =2. A firstorder measurement model specifies the relationships of the observed indicators (scale items) and the 10 latent constructs (sub-dimensions). Based on the assessment of psychometric properties. a second order factor model was tested to examine whether the three dimensions (i.0 and AMOS 18. 2001). Third. The first step in assessing the conceptual model was to test a measurement model of athlete brand image through a confirmatory factor analysis. RMSEA = . Cronbach’s alpha and itemto-total correlations) and factor loadings (Netemeyer. the researchers generated an initial pool of 71 items for athlete brand image dimensions in addition to existing scales. CFI = . The results of the CFA showed reasonable fit.70 (Life Story) to . 2006). 21 items were dropped. The development of the SABI followed the standard psychometric procedures as suggested by Nunnally & Bernstein (1994). theoretical relevance of the items and scale parsimony.. representativeness. 1994). overall results of the second order (χ2/df = 1359/419 =3. 2003). Team Brand Association Scale (Ross.” For the purification of the instrument. We revised or modified items from the Team Association Questionnaire (Gladden & Funk.25 at p <. For the internal consistency of athlete brand image dimensions. 14 items were modified due to lack of relevance. and Marketable Lifestyle) could be viewed as higher order factor to the ten sub-dimensions and how they are related to each other.001. As a result. SRMR = . A pilot study was conducted by administering the instrument (68 items) to 70 students who are enrolled in sport management courses at the same university. The initial items are generated based on extensive literature review. the researchers also developed new items for each factors of athlete brand image. & Vargas. Attractive Appearance. The instrument for a main survey had a total of 55 items. Although CFI values were slightly lower than suggested threshold. a total of 13 additional items were dropped based on the assessments of those items for internal consistency (i.e. The format for the instrument was a seven-point Likert scale ranging from (1) “Strongly Disagree” to (7) “Strongly Agree. For the first order measurement model.

. Attractive Appearance. . Construct reliability coefficients for the scale were acceptable (i. 1996). 1981).. All factor loadings were significant with critical ratio ranging from 10.60. and three dimensions and overall image further support convergent validity of the scale (see Table 3.52 (Body Fit) to . Gopinath. and Life Story). However. Netemeyer. In addition. For example. but the overall fit of the model was reasonable when considering the large number of factors included in the model test. relatively low factor loadings of Life Story items resulted in low AVE score. and Rivalry) need to be reexamined in future study.25 at p <. the discriminant validity of three factors in Athlete Performance (i.RMSEA = .e.0 to 19. All in all. Hair et al. the factor loadings for all items were greater than the . Figure 1 provides a visual representation of model test result. CFI = . Johnson. Bagozzi & Yi. Discussion and Conclusion The results of data analysis indicated that the proposed research model (MABI) adequately described the concept of athlete brand image.096) suggest that the models reasonably fit to the data. >. greater than .e. Competition Style. & Yi.05 level. significant relationships between the ten sub-dimensions and three dimensions (i. SRMR = . Table 2 shows that except two items.096) and overall model (χ2/df = 1359/419 =3. The values of one selected model fit indices (i. The scale can be also used as a diagnostic tool that allows various sport agents and managers to identify weakness of the athlete as a brand and develop effective strategies in building stronger brands. CFI) in the second order model and overall model were slightly lower than the suggested threshold. . supporting convergent validity (Rahim & Magner..85. Except three cases (Athlete Expertise.86. 1988.86.075. Competition Style. and Marketable Lifestyle). Convergent validity is established when each scale item has a significant factor loading on each construct (Anderson & Gerbing. Once the scale is further refined. 1998) ranged from .. SRMR = . Taken together. Bagozzi. Table 4 showed evidence of discriminant validity of the scale except for four cases (.72 between Competition Style and Sportsmanship.70 (Role Model).79 between Athletic Expertise and Competition Style.50.. Discriminant validity is also evident when the squared correlations between one construct and any others are lower than the AVE for each construct (Fornell & Larcker. RMSEA = .001.075. & Burton. and . the results include evidence for convergent validity of the measurement scales. Validity. Reliability.72 between Athletic Expertise and Rivalry. Table 4 supported for the discriminant validity of the scale. 1988. Sportsmanship.64 (Life Story) to . 1988).69 between Competition Style and Rivalry). 2005). Anderson & Gerbing. it can be used to more decisively predict sports consumers’ perceptions toward the athlete brands. the further improvement of the SABI can also provide practitioners with a reliable and valid analytical tool for the measurement of athlete brand image. Kline.e. 1990)..g. AVE values were acceptable (AVE > .1 at p < .88 (Role Model). 1988). Athletic Performance. The reliability estimates were investigated using construct reliabilities and average variance extracted (AVE) for each factor (see Table 2). it is believed that the MABI and SABI will help scholars and managers to better understand how consumers perceive and evaluate the brand image of an athlete. ranging from .e. .60 threshold. The results of CFA suggest that the SABI is a psychometrically sound tool. In addition. Discriminant validity is established when the estimated correlations between the dimensions are not excessively high (e. CFI = .

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skills. sponsors and media Competition Style Sportsmanship Rivalry Attractive Appearance An Athlete’s attractive external appearance that is defined by Physical Attractiveness. spectators.Table 1 Definition Table Athlete Brand Image . Sportsmanship and Rivalry Sub-Dimension Athletic Expertise Definition An athlete’s individual achievement and athletic capability (winning. Competition Style. and integrity) An athlete’s competitive relationship with other athletes An athlete’s physical quality and characteristics that spectators find aesthetically pleasing An athlete’s attractive personal style and trademark An athlete’s body fitness to his/her sport An appealing.defined as spectators’ perception about the athlete Brand. Symbol and Body Fit Physical Attractiveness Symbol Body Fit An athlete’s off-field Life Story marketable features that is defined by Life Story. and Role Model relationship effort Marketable Lifestyle Relationship Effort . interesting off-field life story about an athlete that includes a message and reflects the athlete’s personal value An athlete’s ethical behavior that society has determined is worth emulating An athlete’s positive attitude toward interaction with fans. and proficiency in their sport) An athlete’s specific characteristics of his/her performance in a competition An athlete’s virtuous behavior that people have determined is appropriate as sportsman (fair play. respect for the game. Role Model Behavior. Dimension Athletic performance Definition An athlete’s performance related features which are defined by Athletic Expertise.

96 4.89 .075 .083 .058 .87 5.68 .62 4.38 .77 .52 .051 .70 5.67 .071 .64 .21 5.70 .069 .74 .056 .48 .060 .048 .99 6.57 λ .64 .87 .058 .32 6.075 .87 .75 4.86 .85 .79 .86 5.78 .053 .072 .056 .E.057 .83 .76 5.19 4.71 .74 .88 .Table 2 Summary results for confirmatory factor analysis Factors and items Athletic Expertise The athlete has good winning records The athlete is a dominating player in his/her sport The athlete seems very knowledgeable in his/her sport The athlete has prominent athletic skills in his/her sport Competition Style The athlete’s competition style is distinctive from other players’ The athlete’s competition style is exciting to watch The athlete’s competition style is charismatic Sportsmanship The athlete shows sportsmanship in competition The athlete shows integrity in competition The athlete shows fair play Rivalry The rivalry match of this athlete is exciting The athlete does well against his/her major rival The rivalry match of this athlete is dramatic Physical Attractiveness The athlete is physically attractive The athlete is beautiful looking The athlete is aesthetically pleasing Symbol The athlete has his/her own style in fashion The athlete’s private fashion is attractive The athlete is stylish Body Fit The athlete is physically fit The athlete’s body is perfect for the sport The athlete is in good shape Life Story The athlete has heroic stories in his/her life The athlete has a legendary episode The athlete has dramatic episodes in his/her life Role Model The athlete is socially responsible The athlete is good role model for others The athlete is a good leader in our community Relationship Effort The athlete cares about his/her fans The athlete shows appreciation for fans and spectators The athlete is responsive to fans Means 6.70 .68 .63 4.85 .99 5.96 5.85 6.69 .87 5.074 .65 .71 5.69 .81 .58 .047 .74 .20 6. .070 .066 .73 .069 .061 .54 .85 .081 .70 .44 .85 .80 .76 .72 .23 6.30 4.90 5.052 .83 .25 5.79 .22 5.16 5.75 .81 S.79 5.53 .060 .97 5.54 5.76 .053 .65 .071 .053 .60 .056 .83 .050 .076 .78 .56 CR AVE .83 5.80 .057 .55 5.29 4.

92* .79* .09 .82* .31* 1.24 0.00* 1.05. and residual variances for the hypothesized model Parameter Loadings on Third-Order Image Image → Athletic Performance Image → Attractive Appearance Image → Marketable Lifestyle Loadings on Second-Order Image Athletic Performance → Athletic Expertise Athletic Performance → Competition Style Athletic Performance → Sportsmanship Athletic Performance → Rivalry Attractive Appearance → Physical Attractiveness Attractive Appearance → Symbol Attractive Appearance → Body Fit Marketable Lifestyle → Life Story Marketable Lifestyle → Role Model Marketable Lifestyle → Relationship Effort 0.11* 1.94* 1.85* Unstandardized S.08 0.97* 0.41* .94* 0.79* 0.20 0.91* .75* 2. .54* .00* 0.98* 0.11* 1.45* 1.07 0.72* .15 0.83* .88* .06 .93* . Standardized Note: *p < .00* 0.08 0. path coefficients.81* .E.00* 0.09 0.Table 3 Loadings.

419 .463 .825 .574 .647 .434 .389 .564 .477 a .531 .650 .442 a .234 .121 .225 .142 .330 .652 a a Average Variance Extracted .582 .185 .170 .244 .206 .297 .690 a .578 a .233 .290 .304 .214 .601 .549 .523 a .692 .638 .116 .787 .554 .814 .561 a .604 .623 .715 .377 a .762 .681 a .645 .731 .717 .490 .Table 4 Correlation matrix 1 Athletic Expertise Competition Style Sportsmanship Rivalry Physical Attractiveness Symbol Body Fit Life Story Role Model Relationship Effort 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .700 a .511 .566 .575 .355 .

Athlete Brand Image 10 Figure 1 Final research model (Model of Athlete Brand Image) .

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