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 motorsports 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
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.
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