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3 Empirical Research on 3rd and 4th Degree Sponsoring in:

Julian Heinz Anton Ströh

The eSports Market and eSports Sponsoring, page 67 - 89

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3891-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6648-5, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828866485-67

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
67 3 Empirical Research on 3rd and 4th Degree Sponsoring As discussed in chapter 2.5, the attention of third and fourth degree sponsors is increasing and their entrance holds large potential for the eSports ecosystem. Despite this significance, research on this topic is not available according to the state of knowledge of the author. In a literature review about eSports, Franke (2015, pp. 122-123) also identifies a gap of research about non-endemic sponsors by stating that "The attitude of the eSports sphere to the sponsorship entry of sector-foreign companies is currently not researched, as well as the acceptance among the audience." Considering this, third and fourth degree sponsoring was chosen as research topic and examined from the consumer's point of view as a first attempt to close this gap. To present the conducted research, the different parts of the research process are introduced. Furthermore, the investigated case study and the model derived from previous scientific researches on sports sponsoring that is used as framework are explained. 3.1 Previous Research on eSports The focus of the rather rare research about eSports is on the matter if eSports can be considered as sports or not, while making comparisons to traditional sports, e.g. Wagner (2006), Müller-Lietzkow (2008), Jonasson and Thilborg (2010), Lee and Schoenstedt (2011), and Witkowski (2012).385 Concerning genres, the center are mostly FPS games which inevitably brings game ethics into focus.386 Yet, some researchers examined eSports from the consumers and players perspective, e.g. Wiess and Schiele (2011) by using the use and gratification model, Seo (2013, 2014) by putting eSports in the frame of the 'experience economy' and by examining identity transformation, and Martoncik (2015) by investigating needs and goals. Trepte et al. (2012) analyzed the potential of eSports to build valuable social connections. Franke (2015) explored the fans' attitude towards eSports' entrance into mainstream media, eSports as a sport and its commercialization. Research with clear focus on sponsoring in eSports is rare. Breuer (2011) analyzes the power of sponsors in the ecosystem. In a report of The Nielson Company (2015) U.S. eSports fans were asked to evaluate eSports sponsoring (s. chapter 3.6.8).387 Eventbrite (2016) relates its research only on endemic sponsors and ss stated before, a study about non-endemic sponsoring is not available to the author. 3.2 Research Problem Definition and Objectives The eSports ecosystem increasingly attracts the attention of third and fourth degree brands, but there is still a certain high level of hesitation to enter the eSports industry (s. chapter 2.5.2). From a consumer behavior perspective this leads to the ques- 385 Cf. Franke (2015), p. 112 386 Cf. Wagner (2006), p. 1 387 Cf. The Nielsen Company (2015) 68 tion of how eSports fans evaluate sponsoring engagement from third and fourth degree companies. According to research on sponsorship, the fit of the sponsor with the respective sponsoring property is a very important factor and leverage for successful sponsorships.388 By that, the attitude of consumers towards sponsoring can vary in-between product categories.389 In regard to products, the sponsor-fit in relation to eSports in general is low by definition for third and fourth degree sponsors. The lack of regional affinity (s. chapter 2.5) limits geographical fits. This study's target is to examine the potential qualitative390 effectiveness of third and fourth degree sponsoring despite of this missing natural fit by investigating the additional determinants (besides the sponsor-fit) of sponsorship effectiveness. To do so, a cooperation between Wüstenrot Bausparkasse AG and ESL as a real case study is integrated as the center of the research. This case study is introduced in the following chapter. 3.3 The Case Study As a practical example, the cooperation between the home loan bank Wüstenrot Bausparkasse AG and ESL Frühlingsmeisterschaft 2016 was chosen. This example precisely fits the research problem as clarified after an introduction of the partners and their cooperation. Wüstenrot Bausparkasse AG is the oldest and one of the largest private home loan banks in Germany and part of the Wüstenrot & Württem-bergische Group. It employs approximately 1600 employees and administrates approximately 3.3 million contracts and total assets of almost 22 billion Euro. It was founded in 1921 and its headquarters are in Ludwigsburg, Baden- Württemberg, Germany.391 ESL Meisterschaft is the most important national league in the product portfolio of the ESL and can be considered as the "German Championship" for the currently played disciplines League of Legends, Counter-Strike: GO, StarCraft II392 and FIFA 16. It is formerly known as ESL Pro Series and was first held in 2002. With 50,000 Euro in total prize money allocated to the four disciplines, it has not the same significance as major international ESL events. Yet, the viewership is increasing and the tournament is a good chance for players to attract attention and for brands to reach the German eSports fans. Each year, three seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer) are organized.393 ESL Meisterschaft's overall reach is above one 388 Cf. Huber et al. (2008); Woisetschläger et al. (2013); Siebert (2013) 389 Cf. Dudzik (2006), p. 47 390 Quantitative measures, such as viewership numbers and impressions in the broadcast as well monetary efficiency indicators are not examined 391 Cf. Wüstenrot Bausparkasse AG (2016) 392 Starcraft II is no longer included in the ESL Meisterschaft since ESL Sommermeisterschaft 2016 in August, see Electronic Sports League (2016a) 393 Cf. Niemann (2016); www.pro.eslgaming.com 69 million unique fans.394 More information, e.g. the qualification and tournament structure, is available at: pro.eslgaming.com/deutschland/gate. Wüstenrot acted as main sponsor for ESL Frühlingsmeisterschaft 2016. A detailed interview with Frank Dolipski, one of the decision makers for this cooperation, is provided in Appendix 23. As Mr. Dolipski explains, the sponsorship is the core of an eSports centered campaign that was embedded in Wüstenrot's broader "Endlich, genau mein Ding" marketing campaign targeting the 14-25 years old age segment.395 The eSports campaign was initiated by and created with marketing agencies. The main factor in favor of the decision to engage in eSports is the high relevance of eSports for this group. Wüstenrot's aims are the increase of currently rather low brand awareness within this age segment and the positioning as a modern and sympathetic financial partner for the future that helps make your wish (e.g. of the first own flat) come true.396 The focused product is Wüstenrot Wohnsparen, a home loan offer especially for people younger than 25 years.397 The sponsorship was mainly visible by branding on the ESL Meisterschaft's website, on ESL's online streams for respective ESL Meisterschaft broadcastings398 and at the offline finals at Open-Air-Bühne Gießhalle 1, Landschafts-Park Duisburg on 7th and 8th of May 2016 (s. Appendix 12 and Appendix 13) that was visited by approximately 1500 fans.399 The sponsorship was synergistically combined with further communication activities including: An information desk with a green screen photo booth at the event site Ad-impressions of the TV spot on the stream during commercial breaks Interviews and further relevant content with eSports influencers with focus on their eSports lives400 and posts spread via their and Wüstenrot's social media channels A specific landing page - www.wuestenrot.de/esl - with all information about the cooperation and a prize raffle for special tickets for Gamescom 2016 394 Cf. Niemann (2016) 395 The respective TV spot is available at Wüstenrot & Württembergische (2016a) 396 German term used by Mr. Dolipski: "Wunschverwirklicher" 397 Product information available at www.wuestenrot.de 398 The Wüstenrot logo was not visible during Counterstrike: GO broadcastings due to internal resistance based on the criticism towards Counterstrike in mass media and society 399 Cf. Niemann (2016) 400 All videos available in the respective YouTube playlist at Wüstenrot & Württembergische (2016c) 70 Image 12: Header Cutting of ESL Meisterschaft's Website (April 2016) Source: www.pro.eslgaming.com From ESL's perspective Wüstenrot is an important national partner. By being in contact with marketing agencies and informing them and potential customers about recent developments in eSports, ESL is trying to establish more co-operations with non-endemic brands.401 In June 2016, the ESL and Wüstenrot announced an extension of the cooperation for two more seasons.402 Several given factors led to the decision of choosing this case study. The main reasons are listed below: Home loan banks are fourth degree sponsors for and not related at all with the eSports market Wüstenrot acts as main sponsor ESL Meisterschaft has a very high significance for German eSports Sponsoring of an event that includes several disciplines minimizes specific player, team and game related sympathy/antipathy biases The time and location allowed for a field study at the event site The additively created online content allowed for an integration in an online survey and the investigation of the content's impact 401 Cf. Niemann (2016) 402 Cf. Electronic Sports League (2016b) 71 3.4 Theoretical Model, Research Design and Methods The research design is descriptive. By picking Wüstenrot as case study and limiting the sample to eSports fans and actual visitors of ESLM (see below), required conditions are created: 1) The sponsor fit with the eSports industry and the sponsoring property (ESLM) is low, 2) the attitude towards and personal involvement403 in the eSports industry and/or sponsoring property is positive and high, and 3) the sample fits the relevant target group of eSports fans.404 Under these conditions consumer behavioral determinants are explicitly measured, described, and analyzed. Two quantitative surveys are conducted to gain data. The first survey is designed as a field study among visitors of ESL Frühlingsmeisterschaft 2016 with support of an online questionnaire that is completed with the participants' smartphones onsite. This allows examining influence of the sponsoring on the target group when under high exposure right at the sponsored event. The second survey is conducted online among eSports fans in general. This study's sample serves as control group for some analyses and also creates independent results for the broader German and European eSports fan bases. The questionnaire structures are provided in Appendix 14 and Appendix 15. For clarity reasons the single questions are numerated and further marked by color: teal for the field study and blue for the German participants of the online survey. In the data collection process (s. chapter 3.5.2) also non-German eSports fans were reached coercively and thus also a modified English part was integrated, which is not part of the main research and briefly examined separately in chapter 3.6.8. In previous research, several determinants as factors for sponsorship effectiveness on the basis on theoretical and empirical consumer research have been identified. Detailed literature reviews of consumer research in the field of sponsoring is provided in Johne et al. (2004, pp. 27-46), Marwitz (2006, pp. 387-396), Siebert (2013, pp. 12-14), Gross (2014, pp. 19-115) and Lucas (2014, pp. 21-38). For the research of this thesis the causal models for event sponsoring in sports created by Huber et al. (2008) and Siebert (2013) and their way to operationalize them for empirical research are the basis of conceptualization. Image 13 visualizes the derived and modified model of factors and connections used as foundation for this research. The single determinants and their respective way of operationalization are explained subsequently. 403 Defined as "a person's perceived relevance of the object based on inherent needs, values and interests“ by Zaichkowsky (1985), p. 342 404 These required conditions are validated in chapter 3.6.2 72 Image 13: Modified Model of Qualitative Sponsorship Effectiveness Source: Own illustration based on Huber et. al (2008); Siebert (2013) The general attitude towards sponsoring activities has an impact on effectiveness and is most of all determined by the perception of its necessity for and the disturbance of the experience in regard of the sponsoring property.405 For further analyses about the case study, it is important to understand the basic mindset of the target group concerning (e)sports sponsoring. To measure the general attitude, a seven dimension Likert scale for the two determinants has been used based on Siebert's (2013, pp. 137-138) approach. For additional insights the perceived likability and altruism have been added. Consumers must be aware of the sponsorship in the first place to be effected by it. Next to Wüstenrot, large endemic partners of ESLM, such as Zowie, ONE.de, and logitech were present at the event with attention attracting interactive promo- 405 Cf. Siebert (2013), pp. 137-138; Dudzik (2006), p. 45 73 tion booths406 and furthermore with onsite and stream branding. As main sponsor, Wüstenrot operated the promotion booth with the most prominent position and largest size and furthermore had unique and labeled407 branding (s. Appendix 12 and Appendix 13). The measurement of the awareness was operationalized with an unaided recall test of the main sponsor (= Wüstenrot) and a following interval scale based question about the degree of attracted awareness. The validity of the recall test was assured by a prior request to the correspondents to answer this question immediately (s. Appendix 14, part V) without gaining this information by checking the event site. Furthermore, the author asked for honesty when catching a respondent doing so. Once aware of the sponsorship, several determinants - next to the sponsorproperty-fit - have an impact on the effectiveness of the sponsorship. In previous research Stipp and Shiavone (1996) and Forehand and Grier (2003) concluded that the overall attitude towards a sponsor and the perceived authenticity is influenced by the balance of perceived ego- and altruistic motives. Taking this into consideration, Huber et al. (2008, pp. 94 f.) investigated these correlations and approved a correlation of altruistic motives and authenticity. This authenticity's influence was researched and proven in former research about advertising effectiveness.408 Based on that, Huber et al. (2008, pp. 89 f.) investigated the perceived authenticity of a sponsor in regard of a sponsored event and proved a correlation with the overall attitude and future purchase intention. These determinants of the effectiveness of the sponsorship were measured with a seven dimensional Likert scale409 that included statements to agree or disagree on to a certain extent based on the approach of Huber et. al. (2008, pp. 121 ff.). The answers were given by moving a slider. The formulated statements derive from this respective research and have been adjusted to the research's specifications and the case study. For the online survey, the respondents have been requested to view ESLM objectively as an eSports event to diminish event-related biases. In addition, a statement about a common acceptance of Wüstenrot's engagement and a statement about a change in sympathy as first indicator for image change were added. Furthermore, two final statements as an inductive transition towards the attitude about third and fourth degree sponsors in general have been implemented. All except these final statements were randomized in order to diminish sequence effects. Another construct that is being investigated is the brand image and potential image transfer effects. Burmann et al. (2015, p. 56) describe brand image as the 406 E.g. installed PCs and consoles to try new equipment by playing against friends 407 "ESL Meisterschaft - präsentiert von Wüstenrot" 408 Cf. Huber et al. (2008), pp. 89 ff. 409 For a closer explanation of Likert scales, see Kreis et al. (2014), pp. 100-101 74 result of the subjectively interpreted and evaluated signals sent by a brand as perceived by an individual. In the matter of the associative network-based perspective of brand image, this leads to the allotting of human traits towards the brand.410 Thus, as a target of sponsoring, Hermanns (1997, p. 113) defines image transfer as "the transfer of image components (e.g. dynamics, internationality, juvenileness) from the sponsoring property to the sponsor."411 For a detailed examination of the brand image concept in regard to sponsoring and its history see Gross (2015, pp. 56-114). For a closer examination of theories that try to explain this transfer effect, such as conditioning, the mere-exposure-effect and the balance theory, see Siebert (2013, pp. 78-83) and Lucas (2014, pp. 38-68). A common method to measure and compare such brand images is the semantic differential, which uses bipolar interval scales of oppositional adjectives412 as applied by Siebert (2013, pp. 130-131) and Leuteritz et al. (2008, p. 121) in sponsoring related research. The difference between sponsoring property image and sponsor image at the start of the sponsoring is the theoretical maximum transfer potential.413 Image effects appear rather in the long term and the actual effect should be measured at later points of time.414 As a panel survey was not realizable, the difference in perception of the brand at the event by the visitors in comparison to its 'normal' image in the target group was measured as an indicator for potential image transfer. To do so, Wüstenrot's brand image as perceived by the online survey's participants without direct prior cognitive processing of the sponsorship is taken as point of reference. The semantic opposites were adjusted to the statements about image (transfer) goals of Wüstenrot's person in charge Mr. Dolipski (2016). Despite from the first semantic pair young versus old that was chosen as a simple example to start with, all pairs were randomized in their order of appearance to prevent sequence effects. As awareness of the brand by an individual is a necessary condition to create an individual image about it,415 those respondents of the online survey that were completely unfamiliar with the brand (26,03%, Q4.1) were asked to rate home loan banks in general. Minns (2016), Pilcavage (2015) and Keller (2015a) clarify the importance of relevant added value for the target group that should be part of an eSports sponsoring engagement. By doing so, even non-endemic brands can create a connection 410 Cf. Gross (2015), pp. 173-174 411 Abbreviated coextensive translation 412 Cf. Cotting (2003), p. 105; Kreis et al. (2014), pp. 101-102; Sarstedt/Mooi (2014), pp. 67-68 413 Cf. Leuteritz et al. (2008), pp. 120 ff. 414 Cf. Bruhn (2010), p. 138 415 Cf. Burmann et al. (2015), p. 57 75 with eSports and become a relevant part of it as shown by the successful second degree sponsoring of Red Bull and Coca-Cola.416 As introduced in chapter 3.3, Wüstenrot added an eSports-related landing page and created relevant content with famous German eSports persons. The connection is drawn by showing these persons fulfill their wishes and pursuing 'their own eSports thing' with Wüstenrot as sympathetic helpful financial partner on their side.417 The German online survey sample was evenly split418 by random chance to investigate the perception of this linkage: Subsample A was only informed about the sponsorship and presented a screenshot of the ESLM stream which clarified the sponsorship. Subsample B was shown the interview video featuring the German StarCraft II player Julian "Lambo" Brosig419 in addition. After watching this video, the perceived Wüstenrot-eSports-connection is measured with a Likert scale for fit of attributes. Furthermore, a comparative path analysis of subsample A and subsample B is conducted for the statements about altruistic motives, authenticity and change in sympathy to measure potential effects. The center of the international part of the online survey were seven dimensional Likert scales with statements to (dis)agree on or respectively to tell the likelihood of one's certain reaction. The latter is based on a survey of The Nielsen Company (2015) among U.S. eSports fans. The sample was randomly split into subsample A (n = 53) for which the statements were mostly related to eSports sponsors in general and subsample B (n = 50) for which the statements were related to nonendemic sponsors. This allowed for comparisons of the attitude towards general eSports sponsors and non-endemic sponsors. 3.5 Data Collection The surveys were created with and the data collection was operated by Unipark Questback Enterprise Feedback Suite. The participation was incentivized with the chance to win a 50.00 Euro coupon for computer equipment of the winner's choice. Pre-tests to optimize the handling and understandability were conducted with three eSports friends of the author. 3.5.1 Field Study The data was collected on 7th and 8th of May 2016 on site of ESL Frühlingsmeisterschaft by the author. Flyers (s. Appendix 17) were spread on the seats and visitors were approached directly with the support of those flyers in an open and 416 Cf. Pilcavage (2015); SuperData Research (2015a), p. 17; Euroforum Deutschland SE (2015), p. 15 417 Cf. Dolipski (2016) 418 Different cancel rates led to unequal subsample sizes: n(A) = 341 and n(B) = 293 419 Available at Wüstenrot & Württembergische (2016b) 76 friendly manner when the approached fans seemed not to be interested in the currently shown match/discipline and during breaks in-between matches. The participants were informed that the survey is 1) about eSports among the visitors, 2) part of a research for the author's thesis, 3) independent from any third-parties, and 4) available at www.esl-umfrage.de. This web address was registered and configured to forward to the survey's original complex web address to make the survey easy to access. Furthermore, the technical design was optimized for smartphones. During the completion processes, the author was available for the participants to answer questions about potential uncertainties to avoid misinterpretations. Yet, for most participants there was no need for call backs, proving the overall high comprehensibility of both surveys. The risk of interviewer biases420 was diminished by clarifying that there is no preference for specific results and by not being in constant dialogue with the interviewees during completion on their smartphones. Yet, a certain risk of interviewer biases cannot be fully excluded as the interviewer received a high level of sympathy due to the shared interest in eSports with the respondents, which may lead to positive spillover effects on the attitude towards the researched case study. The survey was started by 155 visitors and completed by 142 of these. Thus the adjusted sample size is n = 142. This sample represents approximately 10% of the 1500 visitors that were present at the event.421 The visitors were approached randomly and in each area of the event site without preference for certain sociodemographical attributes to maximize representativeness in relation to the universal set of all visitors. 3.5.2 Online Survey The data was collected online from 7th of May 2016 until 6th of July 2016. The registered web address www.esports-survey.de together with the necessary information was posted in relevant groups of eSports games and club communities in a personal manner on www.facebook.com. The promotion via Twitch.tv channels/streamers with personal connection to the author only provides a minor share of participants. The sample was split into German and non-German participants, because the case study and the related video clip are only relevant for German eSports fans. The German part was started by 1007 participants and finished with a completion rate of ca. 63% by n = 634. Out of 181 international eSports fans, n = 103 completed the survey. Only those 634 and 103 complete questionnaires are considered. 293 German respondents were exposed to and rated the video clip (subsample B). 420 For more information see Kreis et al. (2014) p. 141 421 Cf. Niemann (2016) 77 3.6 Data Analysis 3.6.1 Socio-Demographics Male eSports fans have a dominant share. In comparison to the analyzed age distribution in chapter 2.3.1, the participants are rather young on average with 19.69 years for the field study and 21.51 years for the German online survey. The under 21 years old represent 66% and respectively 53% of the samples. The share of 26 years old is less for the field study (4%) than for the online survey (14%). Despite of these differences in age distribution, both samples represent young male millennials with a minor female share and thus 1) sufficiently represent the eSports fan base and 2) allow for comparative analyses to a satisfactory degree. The same holds true for the genre segments: In both samples, fans of the commonly most popular genres MOBA and FPS dominate, but other genres are also represented with shares in the range of 8% and 20%. Yet, it has to be kept in mind that the comparability is limited to a certain degree by the different survey situations. Image 14: Demographics and Discipline Preferences of the Field Study and German Online Sample 3.6.2 Verification of the Required Conditions To confirm the eSports affinity of the online sample, and thus the relevance, the significance of eSports for those participants was evaluated on an interval scale.422 ESports is rather a side hobby for only 9.46%, while almost two thirds of the sample marked eSports as one of their most important hobbies or even their passion. Furthermore, 63.4% watch at least 5-10 hours of eSports related content per week (Q2.4). In conclusion, the sample group can be described as very eSports affine and thus represents the targeted eSports fans to a satisfying extent concerning this variable. 422 Ordinal denotations were assigned to the interval values as points of reference for less subjective interpretation variations 78 Image 15: Significance of eSports for the German Online Respondents The sponsor-fit as perceived by the online respondents affirm the assumed and required low fit: For 75% percent, Wüstenrot and home loan banks do not fit to eSports as measured with an interval scale, that is visualized below. Image 16: Evaluation of the Sponsor-eSports-Fit by the German Online Respondents 3.6.3 Attitude towards Sports Sponsoring The average values of the four dimensions for the general attitude towards (e)sports sponsoring measured with the Likert scale are illustrated in the following image. Image 17: General Attitude Towards (e)Sports Sponsoring 79 The results show clear attitudes towards (e)sports sponsoring in general. The target group realizes the (economical) necessity of sponsoring, but rather doesn't evaluate it as altruistic. The overall attitude is positive, as sponsoring is rather seen as likeable and not as annoying or disturbing. This information has to be considered when drawing conclusion about the researched case study. 3.6.4 Awareness at Event The results of the unaided recall test (left) and the interval scale of the attracted attention (right) are provided below. Image 18: Awareness of Wüstenrot at the Event Site Despite the tough endemic competition, the unaided recall rate was 66.9% from which 85.3%423 were doubtless and confident about their answer. 8.45% recalled the main sponsor incorrectly424 and 24.65% were not able to tell the main sponsor. A majority of the respondents (66.9%) at least rather strongly noticed Wüstenrot leading to an average value between rather strong and strong attention (Ø 2.75). In conclusion, these results show that Wüstenrot as non-endemic brand is recognized amongst famous endemic sponsors and can attract high level of attention. The unexpectedness of its appearance may even catalyze this effect. 3.6.5 Attitude and Perception As explained in chapter 3.4, the determinants of the effectiveness of the sponsorship were measured with a seven dimensional Likert scale. Image 19 shows the used interval scale and serves as template for a demonstration of how the results of the single statements are visualized. 423 Related to the total sample, not to the 69,7% share 424 By mentioning one of the endemic sponsors 80 Image 19: Template for Visualization of the results of Q6.1 and Q8.1 Source: Own illustration 3.6.5.1 Acceptance The overall acceptance and basic mindset as a foundation for effective sponsorship are examined as a first indicator. The results are visualized in the following image. The results are unambiguous. Only a small share of the respondents (2.84%/9.52%) disagree to a certain extent that they consider Wüstenrot's sponsoring as good, while nearly a fourth of the ESLM visitors and over a third of the online participants completely agree. This positive basic acceptance is a solid foundation for successful sponsorship, but does not unconditionally lead to such. Thus, the perceived appearance of the sponsor is further investigated in the next subchapters. The result that almost half of the respondents evaluate Wüstenrot more likeable425 is a first indicator for image transfer potential, which is closely analyzed in chapter 3.6.6. Image 20: Overall Acceptance and Change of Sympathy 425 The German term "sympathisch" and the English term "sympathetic" are not used in the same way in the respective languages and cultures and thus "likable" is chosen as translation 81 3.6.5.2 Altruistic Motives and Authenticity The following diagrams visualize the results of the statements about perceived altruistic motives. Image 21: Perceived Altruistic Motives The data show that a majority share of the sample group sees the own commercial benefit of Wüstenrot as Wüstenrot's primary motive. Only 15.6%/14.5% at least rather disagree with this. Yet, compared to this, more respondents see altruistic motives as secondary motives. 45% of the ESLM visitors at least to some extent assigned motives to improve the quality of the event to Wüstenrot and most of them (41.9% of the sample) even see these motives to be directed towards eSports in Germany in general. The next image shows the outcome of the statements about authenticity. Image 22: Authenticity 82 The results seem contradictory at first view. Even though rather small shares (27.1%/23.3%) agree to some extent that Wüstenrot has honest interest in eSports, larger shares in comparison (46.4%/35.7%) see Wüstenrot at least as a rather authentic sponsor. This result goes along with Q6.1.4/Q8.1.4 and indicates once more that the target group is aware of Wüstenrot's commercial interest and sees it as dominant to its interest in eSports itself. Despite this perception, the respondents appreciate Wüstenrot's efforts (Q6.1.1/Q8.1.1, Q6.1.7/Q8.1.7) and its appearance is not perceived as not authentic by a majority. An increased assignment of real interest in eSports by the fans can be reached by creating relevant content,426 as shown for this case study in chapter 3.6.7, and over time by committing to a lasting long-term engagement. 427 Another noticeable aspect of these results is the high share, approximately a third on average and higher for the ESLM visitors, of neutral opinions. This neutrality may indicate that for a certain part of the eSports fans cognitive, explicit processing and evaluation of information about sponsorships is rather rare limiting the potential effect of sponsorship. In combination with the findings of the general attitude towards sponsoring (Q.4.1/Q.6.1, chapter 3.6.3), these fans may just see sponsors as a necessity that is inevitable, but not disturbing. In comparison, non visitors that did not experience the sponsoring onsite are more skeptical in terms of altruism and authenticity. It can be assumed that higher exposure to the sponsorship and the activities lead to this more favorable evaluation of the visitors indicating a positive impact. Yet it must be noticed that higher event involvement has a positive effect on the evaluation of a sponsor and sponsorship428 and thus also contributes to the observed effect. 3.6.5.3 Non-Endemic Sponsors in General After specifically investigating Wüstenrot's sponsorship, a general attitude about the engagement of non-endemic brands was examined. The results are shown below: 426 Cf. Pilcavage (2015) 427 Cf. Pilcavage (2015) 428 Cf. Dudzik (2006), pp. 47-51; Huber et al. (2008), pp. 52-57; pp. 98-101; Siebert (2013), p. 210; Lucas (2014), p. 35 83 Image 23: Attitude towards Non-Endemic Sponsors in General The data clarify that the respondents accept non-endemic brands as sponsors and are glad about them engaging with eSports in general. 20.5% and respectively 29.3% at least rather think that non-endemic brands just do not belong to the eSports environment, but yet only 4.9% and respectively 13.5% would rather, mostly, or completely not appreciate the appearance of non-endemic brands as sponsors. This indicates that even though the fans are skeptical about engagements of brands without natural relation to eSports to some degree, they still have an overall positive mindset. 84 3.6.6 Image Transfer Potential The following image shows the different paths that were created within the semantic differential. Image 24: The Paths of the ESLM, eSports Scene and Wüstenrot Images Within the Semantic Differential The two paths that run in the left area of the grid show the dynamic (Ø 2.58/Ø 2.63), modern (Ø 1.97/Ø 2.17) image of the ESLM and the eSports scene that may be transferred to Wüstenrot. The image of Wüstenrot or respectively home loan banks was measured in the questionnaire before the sponsorship was mentioned, and thus acts as control image and reference point within the target group. It is represented by the red path and stands in opposition to the ESLM/eSports image with values above 4.0 in direction of the respective semantic counterpart. The analysis of the perception of Wüstenrot at the event, represented by the teal path, clearly re- 85 veals a different brand perception triggered by the sponsoring effort as rendered by the position of the path in-between the others: There is a significant (α = 0.05) shift towards ESLM's image for every dimension as statistically confirmed with a onesided independent sample t-test (s. Appendix 24). Contrary to the reference image, the perception of Wüstenrot at ESLM is rather modern (Ø 3.31), dynamic (Ø 3.78) and amicable (Ø 3.78), as set as targets by Wüstenrot. Another image-related target stated by Dolipski (2016) is the increase of overall sympathy towards the brand and trustworthiness. Consistent with the results of Q6.1.7 (s. Image 20), the fans at the event perceive the brand as being more likable. Furthermore, yet to a smaller but significant extent, Wüstenrot is grasped more trustworthy and sympathetic/understanding. In consolidation, the target group's perception of Wüstenrot when under exposure of the sponsoring activities is a favorable condition and an indicator for 1) successful image transfer in regard of modernity and dynamic and 2) the successful overall ignition of a more sympathetic, likeable and trustworthy image. 3.6.7 Created Brand Connection with eSports Subsample B was asked to evaluate the perception of the connection in the shown video clip. The results of the used Likert scale is visualized in the following diagram. Image 25: Perception of the Wüstenrot-eSports-Connection in the Video Clip The evaluation of the connection in the shown video is rather positive. Even though, it is not highly perceived as strong (Ø 3.93), it clearly appears rather amicable (Ø 3.46) and likable (Ø 3.33) and by that rather honest (Ø 3.6), authentic (Ø 3.62) and trustful (Ø 3.56). Approximately a third of the respondents perceived the connection as neither comprehensible and apparent nor fitting. This shows that 86 building up a real link with eSports, that is perceived as such, is a difficult task for third and fourth degree companies. This lack of understanding demands for a separate analysis of the results for the part of the sample that can be assumed to have actually recognized and decoded the connection shown in the video. A rating of the connection as at least rather comprehensible and apparent (= a value below 4.0) was used as indicator for such higher comprehension. The results for the respondents fulfilling this condition are represented by the violet path. The data show that the participants with a better understanding of the created link in the first place evaluated the connection more favorable (0.99 scale points on average) in all other aspects. In conclusion, a lack of comprehensibility lessened the effectiveness to some degree. It cannot be clarified to what extent, as it can be assumed that an overall more favorable mindset towards the sponsorship leads to a better rating concerning all aspects including understandability and apparentness and an overall less unfavorable mindset vice versa. To investigate, if the perceived link had an impact on the perception of the researched determinants, a path analysis of the subsamples' results of Q8.1 was additionally conducted and is illustrated in Image 26. The graph shows an overall more positive evaluation of the fans that watched the video, represented by the orange path, in comparison to those who did not, represented by the blue path. Due to the rather slight differences, each statement was statistically analyzed with a one-sided independent sample t-test to prove significance (α = 0.05, s. Image 26).429 Image 26: Comparative Path Analysis of Q6.1/Q8.1 429 The detailed results are provided in Appendix 24 87 In detail, the fans who watched the video assigned significantly more honest interest in eSports to Wüstenrot (Q8.1.2) and significantly gained more sympathy for the brand (Q8.1.7). They also perceived Wüstenrot as being more authentic (Q8.1.3), but not quite with the same statistical significance. Nevertheless, these results are clear indicators for positive effectiveness of the shown relevant content. Concerning altruistic motives, the respondents significantly perceived Wüstenrot's engagement not as primarily self-serving as the subsample A (Q8.1.4), but there is no significant effect on the perception of altruism towards eSports (Q8.1.5 and Q8.1.6). The violet path represents the same part of the subsample analog to Image 25. The path analysis shows that these respondents with better comprehension of the link and more favorable evaluation of the connection accordingly evaluated the sponsoring significantly more positive concerning altruism, authenticity and sympathy. 3.6.8 International Results The basic results of the central Likert scales that are analyzed in this chapter as well as the regional distribution of the mostly European respondents (86.4%) are provided in Appendix 18 and Appendix 19 respectively. Similar to the German fans, the international participants have an appreciative attitude towards non-endemic eSports sponsoring: 76% of subsample B stated to appreciate non-related sponsors at least to some extent (Q5.1.3 B/Ø 2.28). Furthermore, almost 70% of subsample A want to see more non-related brands in eSports in the future (Q5.1.4), while only a fourth of subsample B does not want to see non-endemic brands in eSports to some extent (Q.5.1.4 B). The assignment of altruistic motives to sponsors in general is stronger (Q5.1.1 A/Ø 3.74) than to non-endemic brands (Q5.1.1 B/Ø 4.02), but overall rather hesitant, which goes along with the German fans' results. As expected, subsample B gave less credit concerning honest interest in eSports to nonendemic brands (Q5.1.2 B/Ø 3.78) than subsample A to sponsors in general (Q5.1.2 A/Ø 3.25), affirming the lower natural authenticity of non-endemic brands due to the missing fit. The average likability of a more favorable evaluation of a brand due to eSports sponsoring did neither vary significantly by sponsoring property category nor degree of sponsor relation. All values are in the range of 2.92 to 3.00 (Q5.2.1 A, Q5.2.2 A, Q5.2.1 B, Q5.2.2 B). In the Nielsen eSports Report from The Nielsen Company (2015), over half of the surveyed U.S. eSports fans stated to feel somewhat or much more favorable about a brand that occurs as eSports sponsor. Q5.2.1 and Q5.2.2, that were conceptualized to give comparable results to this report to a certain degree, affirm such a high more favorable evaluation of the European 88 eSports fans: For 67.3% on average430 it is at least rather likely to evaluate a brand more favorable when it sponsors an eSports event or team/player. Concerning direct brand preferences, the effect of sponsoring for non-endemic brands is weaker according to the results: 64.15% of subsample A would at least rather likely prefer a brand over a competitive brand due to eSports event or team/player sponsoring (Q5.2.3 A/Ø 3.09 and Q5.2.4 A/Ø 3.11) while only 36.73% (Q.5.2.3 B/Ø 3.80) and respectively 44.9% (Q5.2.4 B/Ø 3.65) of subsample B would do the same in regard of eSports non-related brands. This result clarifies that for direct competition, eSports sponsoring has a higher importance for and missing out a harsher effect on endemic sponsors. Yet, in summary, an average of 40.82% of an at least rather likely preference and the further results of the international survey indicate that eSports sponsoring can be a way to gain direct competitive advantage in the European target group and that an overall high appreciation is not only present in Germany, but also in other parts of Europe. 3.7 Summarization and Implications The research's target was to provide first insights into non-endemic sponsoring from a consumer behavioral perspective. The results of the field study showed that it is possible to attract high attention of fans as a non-endemic brand at an event site that results in a more positive attitude. Regarding sponsoring in general, the surveyed German eSports fans are aware of the sponsor's primary commercial targets and the necessity of sponsors. This partly leads to a certain neutrality towards Wüstenrot. But nevertheless, it does not lead to an overall negative attitude: The fans may (still) have their doubts about Wüstenrot's actual interest in eSports itself, but still perceive Wüstenrot as rather authentic and appreciate Wüstenrot's engagement in eSports. Almost half of the ESLM visitors and approximately a third of the online respondents credited altruistic motives to Wüstenrot as secondary components to some extent. The overall appreciative attitude also holds true for non-endemic brands in general as clarified by a dominant share of ca. 70% of all participants, that are rather, mostly or completely glad about non-endemic engagements. The comparative image path analyses revealed that image transfer effects from the sponsored eSports property towards a non-endemic brand is possible. Within the frame of eSports, Wüstenrot was perceived significantly more modern and dynamic and furthermore, more trustworthy, amicable and sympathetic. The created brand-eSports-connection presented in the online content was not perceived as strong, but still rather positively. It led to an increase in perceived authenticity as well as it triggered more positive change in sympathy. This effect was significantly higher for fans that stated to think that the linkage is comprehensible and apparent to some degree. 430 Averaging the results of Q5.2.1 A, Q5.2.2 A, Q5.2.1 B and Q5.2.2 B 89 For non-endemic companies, all these findings implicate, that the risk of not being accepted in the eSports sphere by the fans per se is low. ESports creates a favorable environment for effective sponsoring even for third and fourth degree brands. The results of the international side study indicate that this conclusion also holds true in other parts of Europe. When engaging as sponsor, the creation of a connection and relevant content should be considered as it can positively affect the fans' attitudes and decrease the fans' doubt about honest interest in eSports. It may also diminish the identified degree of neutrality. For companies seeking to improve their image in terms of modernity and sympathy in the age segment of the millennials, eSports engagement can be a good choice. Yet, when evaluating eSports sponsorship opportunities each specific non-endemic brand needs more differentiated approaches in addition to these results as clarified in the next chapter. 3.8 Limitations and Future Research The conducted research gives insights into the broad target group of eSports fans without distinguishing them specifically. In the conducted interviews, Minns (2016) and Fletcher (2016e) emphasize that the fan bases of different disciplines and their specific consumer behavior are different. Furthermore, each fan base consists of diverse fan groups. This missing differentiation by discipline is a limitation of the research. Furthermore, Dudzik (2006, p. 47) clarifies that the attitude towards sponsors can vary according to the respective industry. Next to that, Lucas (2015, pp. 145 ff.) revealed differences in sponsorship effectiveness in between cultures. Considering all this, conclusions from the results of a case study including a German home loan bank about other industries, e.g. fashion or consumer goods, and about other cultures cannot be drawn unlimitedly. Yet, the inductive transition in chapter 3.6.5.3 and the international results are indicators for a certain degree of transferability to other industries and other parts of Europe. In future research these missing differentiations should be integrated to give comparative insights on a country, discipline and industry basis. When third and fourth degree sponsoring grows, a sufficient amount of possible case studies from different industries will be available. For non-endemic companies considering to start engagements in eSports, it is important to analyze the attitude of the eSports fans towards their specific industry/products/services of each country's and discipline's fan bases to evaluate which properties to sponsor and how to create connections. As such connections can be decisive for an eSports sponsorship's success,431 more detailed research about factors influencing the effectiveness of cre- 431 Cf. Pilcavage (2015)

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Abstract

In the last decades, the market for digital games has grown to nearly $100 billion. During this growth, a special gaming segment and community formed surrounding the direct competitive aspect of games: eSports. The core of eSports is similar to traditional types of sport. Players train to become better, clubs are established, tournaments are organized and fans enjoy watching their game being played on the highest level of performance. With viewers and prize money in the millions, eSports have grown into an economically significant media sport ecosystem and a marketing landscape that started to attract non-endemic companies as advertisers and sponsors. This book analyzes the components of the eSports ecosystem as well as their interactions with each other. Furthermore, the attitude of eSports fans towards engagements of non-endemic companies is researched by using a real case study including the Electronic Sports League and German home loan bank Wüstenrot.