Research Area

In the sports and entertainment industries, fans play significant roles culturally and economically. They invest their money, time, and efforts into supporting particular individuals (e.g., celebrities) or organizations (e.g., sports teams), developing psychological connections with them, and encouraging others around them to do the same. Interest in fan psychology and behavior has been growing in academia and practice as marketing strategies to convert regular customers into fans have been implemented in other industries (e.g., apparel, restaurants, and transportation). In my research, I explore the psychological and social mechanisms by which people become fans to help individuals and organizations acquire and maintain them. Below is a brief overview of my main research projects.

Word of Mouth Research

Word of mouth is an effective way to reach untapped markets and acquire new fans. With the emergence of social media, word of mouth has become more active, extensive, and complex. In my research, I explore the circumstances and mechanisms by which word of mouth has a significant influence on a recipient’s purchase decisions by analyzing (1) the recommender’s characteristics (e.g., expertise); (2) the recipient’s characteristics (e.g., issue involvement); (3) the recommendation’s characteristics (e.g., richness of the message content); and (4) the relationship between the recommender and recipient (e.g., similarity). Based on the findings, I propose marketing strategies and campaigns for acquiring new fans through word of mouth.

Fan Community Research

Fans often form a fan community in which they interact with one another, develop unique rituals and traditions, and share group norms. Fan communities enhance fans’ sense of belonging and strengthen their attachment to the individuals and organizations they support. However, strong connections among the fans can create a vivid boundary between existing and potential fans that alienates potential fans. In my research, I examine peculiar phenomena like this that can occur when fans belong to a fan community.

Branding Research

To retain existing fans and attract new ones, individuals and organizations need to clearly communicate with the public about who they are, how they differ from their competitors, and what makes them superior to the competitors. Branding theories provide useful frameworks to address these points and develop effective marketing strategies. In my research, I identify the unique opportunities and challenges for particular individuals (e.g., athletes) and organizations (e.g., sports leagues). I also study how significant events involving these individuals and organizations, such as scandals and stakeholder conflicts, can affect their relationships with their fans.