LANSING, Mich. — For millions of football fans across the United States, fall is the time to break out the grills, load vehicles with coolers and food and games, and gather with friends for the time-honored tradition of tailgating.
It’s a tradition that Baylor University’s Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, and her husband, Luke Lorick, have been enjoying since their undergraduate years at the University of South Carolina. The couple partnered on a recent research project to better understand tailgating’s impact on relationships and well-being.
David is known nationally for her studies of phone snubbing – “phubbing” – and smartphone addiction. Lorick owns and operates Tailgating Challenge, a website devoted to testing and reviewing tailgating equipment, and he launched National Tailgating Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of September.
“I noticed how at tailgates people actually interact with each other and are not glued to their phones like we see in restaurants and many other settings,” David said. “This led us to combine our expertise to study the impact of tailgating together on well-being.”
(Read this story online at baylor.edu/news)
The researchers surveyed 143 tailgating adults (44 percent were female) who answered questions about their partners and their respect toward that person. The results show that individuals who tailgate with their significant other report higher levels of respect and relationship satisfaction, David said. The results of the study will be presented later this month at the Atlantic Marketing Association Conference.
“Tailgating fosters the human-to-human, face-to-face interactions and connections that we as humans need but yet find hard to come by as a result of cellphones and ‘phubbing’ tendencies,” David said.
With over 70 million people tailgating annually, spending on average $150 on each occasion, David said this research offers important guidance for marketers, particularly in terms of positioning strategies in marketing communications for tailgating-related products and events.
“For example, in advertisements, marketers should focus on portraying couples, or even friends, tailgating together as this may resonate more and help build bonds with the products they sell and the markets they are reaching out to,” David said.
David said she and her husband knew that tailgating strengthened their relationship, but they wanted to dig in to see if it was – or could be – helpful to others.
“We have lived and experienced these effects ourselves, so we wanted to determine if this impacted others the same way,” she said. “We found that tailgating helps strengthen relationships, in part, by helping people escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They disconnect from their TVs, laptops and cellphones and make real connections with loved ones and friends.”
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