Reciprocal Intentions: Effects of Promotional Giveaways on Consumers’ In-Venue Spending Intentions: An Abstract
“Inscrutably involved, we live in the currents of universal reciprocity.”
Twentieth-century philosopher, religious thinker, political activist, and educator
Extant literature on in-venue sports promotions has demonstrated their positive effect on game attendance (Boyd & Krehbiel, 2003, 2006; Kappe, Blank, & DeSarbo, 2014; McDonald & Rascher, 2000). Promotional stadium giveaways are among these types of sports promotions and are inherently being adopted in practice. For instance, in 2016, all Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises participated in this promotional strategy, totaling to 233 scheduled games with stadium giveaways (Cracknell, 2016). Surprisingly, promotional giveaways have not attracted much scholarly attention beyond their effects on gate revenues. The present research provides a field study examination of promotional giveaways on customers’ reciprocal behaviors in the context of a particular MLB franchise. Theoretically, this study contributes to the exploration of promotions in sports marketing as well as consumer reciprocation within seller-buyer relational exchanges (Morales, 2005; Palmatier, Jarvis, Bechkoff, & Kardes, 2009).
Findings demonstrate that promotional giveaways increase consumers’ in-venue spending intentions with attendance frequency moderating this relationship. We believe that reciprocity (cf., exchange theory; Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005) may explain this positive relationship. Since promotional in-venue giveaways represent a significant relationship marketing investment for sports marketers, it is expected that customers may have reciprocal intentions in return. A boundary condition for customers’ reciprocal intentions after receiving promotions is that promotional in-venue giveaways do not have the same effect on frequent sport consumers. Our reasoning behind this boundary condition is that such consumers may value the promotional giveaways as the reciprocal behavior of sport marketers in exchange of their existing loyalty; thus, they would not need to show further reciprocal behaviors. This boundary condition not only contributes to the understanding of promotions in sports marketing but also extends the literature on seller-buyer relational exchanges: Relationship marketing investments (such as promotional in-game giveaways) increase seller performance outcomes (Huang, 2015; Palmatier et al., 2009); however, their effects may be different for consumers in different stages of relationship.