The Influence of Generational Cohort and Self-Congruity in Social Sponsorship: a Study in a Developing Country
Social sponsorship has increased interest both in the academic area and in practice as a marketing communication tool to achieve brands’ objectives. Participation in social sponsorship enhances a brand’s goodwill and brand equity as well as image. Despite growing interest in social sponsorship, few studies have utilised generational cohort and self-congruity theory in one study, especially in a social sponsorship context. This study explored how generational cohorts’ self-congruity influences sponsorship attitude within social sponsorship, particularly in the context of a developing country, Malaysia. Three specific questions have been raised: (1) does self-congruity of different generational cohorts affect preferences for social sponsorship programmes? (2) Does it affect sponsor attitudes and loyalty? (3) To what extent does ethnicity impact generational cohorts’ preferences for sponsorship programmes? This study believes that generational cohorts have varying degrees of self-congruity, and a brand might consider participating in social sponsorship programmes congruent with its target consumers. This study applied generational cohort theory as a segmentation technique to identify consumers’ characteristics and the segmentation of the consumers. Besides, self-congruity theory was used to evolve the degree of consumers’ self-congruity with social sponsorship programmes based on generational cohort profiles (e.g. characteristics, preferences, and attitudes). Malaysia was chosen as a context for this study because of the country’s ethnic diversity, as well as being a plural society where all ethnic groups experience socialisation processes separately. An experimental method was applied in this study. Among the respondents, there were two generational cohorts (Boomers and Generation Y) and two ethnic groups (Malays and Chinese). The respondents included current students, alumni, students’ parents or relatives, and staff of Malaysian public universities. In total, this study collected 501 useable responses among the treatment and control groups. Single and multi-group analysis was applied to analyse the data since this study aimed to investigate differences between generational cohorts and ethnic groups with respect to attitudes towards sponsorship and brand loyalty. Hence, a combination of analysis methods has been employed such as the t-test, ANOVA and Covariance-based Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). This study found that generational cohort profiles influenced consumers’ responses on perceived congruency with a social sponsorship programme (i.e. event, brand and media). Findings from the research suggest that consumers held a more favourable attitude towards social sponsorship and brand loyalty that was congruent to them. On the other hand, both generational cohorts did not statistically differ on their attitudes toward sponsorship for international events and brands. In terms of ethnicity, the study found mixed findings on social sponsorship preferences and sponsorship attitudes. Interestingly, this study found that ethnicity affects Malays and Chinese Gen Y’s attitudes towards sponsorship on both brand conditions (i.e. ethnic-based and international) since both ethnic groups perceived congruency differently. This study contributes to the growing body of research on social sponsorship since it is the first study that attempts to utilise Generational Cohort Theory and Self-congruity theory in a social sponsorship context and developing country. It also contributes to developing and empirically testing models in heterogeneous environments (i.e. across generational cohorts and in a multicultural society), especially in a developing country. From a managerial perspective, this study allows brands to identify a social sponsorship programme’s congruence with its own consumers’ self-congruity. Brands will then be able to implement social sponsorship programmes that are congruent with their target consumers and that achieve their objectives.