Here at the Performance Research offices, sporting news from around the globe always tends to be a topic of conversation and this morning was no different. Today we were discussing Formula 1 racing and the continuing plight of Pete Windsor and Ken Anderson to get a U.S. team off the ground.
While there are various stories surfacing about how US F1 has no money and at this point even a spot on the grid in 2011 is questionable, support from United States fans has been unwavering. Even without a race on American soil since 2007 and no American driver, fans still find a way to follow their sport.
This type of fan retention reminded me of a PR Independent Study from back in 2000. You can read the findings below or check out more at www.performanceresearch.com
Why do American Formula One Fans Value Sponsors?
With the Formula One tour revisiting the US for the first time in ten years, you might have expected visitors to the Indianapolis circuit to be curious motor sports fans, with no particular allegiance to Formula One. If you did you would have been wrong. Despite a ten-year absence, America’s passion toward Formula One remains undiminished. An independent study* conducted by Performance Research uncovers diehard US Formula One fans, who actually appreciate the role of the sponsors.
So, is there really room for another motorsport in the US? It appears so. When US respondents were asked to rate their interest in Formula One on a scale of one to ten, where ten is high, three-fourths (75%) gave Formula One either a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating. So, how did this compare to other established US motorsports? Well, roughly one-fourth (24%) awarded CART, a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating, and fewer than one-fifth (15%) awarded NASCAR, currently America’s biggest growing motorsport a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating.
Moreover, almost all (91%) of the US respondents reported watching Formula One on television during the past month, in contrast fewer than two-thirds (62%) reported watching CART. When respondents were asked to choose the statement which best described themselves, just over one-half (53%) chose the statement “I am a diehard Formula One fan and will attend as many races as I can”. The remaining respondents expressed interest in other US motorsports.
Apparently the return of Formula One to the US is not just good news for the fans. Who else stands to benefit from a US Formula One stop over? The answer is the sponsors.
When visitors to both the 2000 British Grand Prix and 2000 US Grand Prix were questioned about sponsorship, interesting differences were highlighted.
While just over one-third (38%) of fans interviewed at the British Grand Prix reported sponsors of Formula One have “More interest” in their customers, nearly two-thirds (63%) of US fans believed this to be true.
Moreover, one-third (32%) of fans interviewed at the British Grand Prix Grand Prix reported they personally benefit from corporate sponsorship, compared to over one-half (59%) of US fans.
How would these positive feelings affect sponsor loyalty levels? Incredibly, just over one-half of US respondents reported they would “Almost always” or “Frequently” preferentially choose the sponsors product over a non-sponsors product. Among British Grand Prix attendees this figure stands at just over one-fourth (29%).
So why do these differences exist? Culture? Certainly, but why are UK and European sponsors not benefiting from the type of loyalty levels reported in the States? One research finding highlights the main difference. US fans reported, “Sponsorship makes the race possible.” This is no accident; sponsors of US motorsports constantly tell fans why they sponsor, what they are doing as sponsors and how fans can benefit as a consequence, while very few UK sponsors are communicating their commitment in this way and therefore can’t claim to have such strong support among their fan base.
*Independent studies are intended to provide a “snap shot” of Formula One sponsorship. Typically proprietary research conducted by Performance Research is designed to look beyond “snapshot” data by measuring the incremental impact of a sponsorship programme on the specific objectives of the sponsor.
Staff from Performance Research contacted 221 visitors to the Indianapolis, 2000 US Formula One Grand Prix to complete a short questionnaire. The margin of error for this sample is no more than + 7%.
Colour reports covering the 2000 US Formula One Grand Prix and 2000 British Formula One Grand Prix are now available to purchase.