Turning stardust into gold dust
: How do sports celebrity endorsements of luxury brands influence the intentions and decisions to purchase of Chinese consumers?

  • Lingling Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


As a result of three decades of rapid economic development, China has become the world’s second largest economy and the second biggest market for luxury consumer products (Chevalier & Lu, 2009; Degen, 2009). The most populous nation in the world is also a leading sports power with strong yet mythical potentials in its sports business market (Chadwick, 2008). This thesis studies the area where luxury consumption and sports business intersect in the market by examining the phenomenon of sports celebrity endorsement of luxury brands and how such endorsements lead to the intentions and decisions by Chinese consumers to purchase the endorsed brands. Employing a mixed-method approach by using qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys, this study adopts a methodological triangulation research design, which involves semi-structured interviews with brand managers and professionals to explore their knowledge and experiences, questionnaire surveys of consumers to understand their demographic characteristics and luxury consumption motives and considerations, and confirmative structured interviews with consumers to ensure the reliability of the research and expand the findings. Research data analysis generated three major findings. Firstly, the purchasing intentions and decisions of the consumers are the result of the synchronised functioning of a triad of social, personal, and commercial factors that define both the endorsers and the consumers. Secondly, the characteristics of the sports celebrity endorsers in terms of their attractiveness, trustworthiness and expertise have positive relationships with the represented brand equity, which in turn has a positive relationship with the consumers’ intentions and decisions to purchase the endorsed products. Thirdly, Chinese consumers demonstrate a weak and conditional preference for local sports celebrities to endorse international luxury brands. These research findings explain why it is more difficult for luxury brand owners to sell to the consumers than to impress or interest them, particularly in the context of the Chinese market. This is a pioneering academic study, intended to provide insights into how consumers in China respond to sports celebrity endorsement of luxury brands. It 2 provides an academic understanding of a knowledge gap between the studies of luxury business and sports marketing. It may benefit the strategists and practitioners of luxury brands by providing an empirical understanding of Chinese consumers and their decision-making processes under the influences of sports celebrity endorsements, so they can develop marketing communication strategies more effectively in the emerging market.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorSimon Chadwick (Supervisor) & John Beech (Supervisor)


  • Luxury brands
  • purchasing intentions
  • consumer
  • purchasing decisions
  • sports celebrity endorsement
  • communication strategy
  • China sports business
  • emerging market

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