In light of modern media culture, sports stars are more than just athletes but they are “a social sign, carrying cultural meanings and ideological values, which express the intimacies of individual personality, inviting desire and identification; an emblem of national celebrity, founded on the body, fashion and personal style” (Gledhill, 1991, p. xiii). The concept of “athlete brand” has emerged from their multi-functional and multi-platform nature. In marketing research, those athletes are considered not only as a vehicle for advertisement or product endorsement, but also as cultural products that can be sold as “brands” (Gilchrist, 2005). In fact, many athletes start managing their individual brands with various sport agencies. In this highly competitive agent industry, building and managing brands for athletes are becoming an essential task (IBIS World Industry reports, 2008). Despite the increasing importance in the practical field, the research about branding strategy for athletes is limited. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the link between athlete brand image and sport consumers' brand loyalty toward the athletes and clarify the specific consumers’ loyalty creation mechanism toward athlete brand.
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- Achieving Loyalty in Athlete Branding: Examining the Relationship between Athlete Brand Image and Consumer Loyalty