NASCAR vs IndyCar fan research

A reader writes, Dear, I just came across some fan research that was conducted by Taylor, a leading research and PR firm in sports. One of the things that strikes me is the overall notion that NASCAR is losing the younger audience. This research (and the TV Ratings) indicates that the opposite is true, and that the Gen. Y fans are very in-tune with the sport. My observation is that IndyCar continues to lose the younger audience, and they are becoming fans of NASCAR instead. I think there are some reasons for that in the data:

1. The younger Avid fans are highly attuned to sponsors in the sport as they are nearly three-times more likely than regular fans to choose their favorite driver based on who the sponsor is, according to the research. As has been mentioned many times on the site, ride buyers are the norm in IndyCar today, so if the younger fans choose their favorite driver based on who the sponsor is, then there is not much to choose from in IndyCar. Does Gen Y connect with CITGO, NTT Data, United Fiber, DHL, Barracuda, Mistic, Hydroxycut, ABC Supply, TrueCar, Nuclear Energy, or Acorn Stairlifts?

2. Younger avid fans also connect and consume the sport differently than older avid fans. 54% of these fans indicate they want access to NASCAR content on multiple devices when watching race action on TV. Digital is becoming the way for many younger fans to gain access to NASCAR, with 63% using Facebook to share NASCAR content, while 28% have a NASCAR app on their smartphone or tablet. Finally, nearly 79% of these fans now obtain their sports news and information online. Taking a look at the two recently Crowned champions of IndyCar and NASCAR, you can see the stark difference between IndyCar and NASCAR in terms of reaching a younger audience through social media: Scott Dixon 6,127 Facebook “Likes", while Jimmie Johnson has 784,683 Facebook “Likes". IndyCar has 148,000 while NASCAR has over 3.4 million Facebook likes. IndyCar is just not reaching a younger audience through the channels that the research indicates is important to them.

This data, while it has a focus on NASCAR, is a good indication to how the younger fans connect with the sport. IndyCar should take a look at the reasons why fans connect with NASCAR, and then try to build the same types of touch points to grow their sport with Gen Y fans. As a sports marketing strategy guy, I look at this and say IndyCar needs to invest in social media, and to also build value for sponsors to attract the kinds of brands that will connect with the fans. Better yet, NASCAR should buy the IndyCar series and let the Hulman George family do the only thing they really care about – run the Indy 500. If NASCAR wants to extend their international reach, the IndyCar platform is the way to do it. The rest of the world has very little interest in stock car racing. And NASCAR certainly knows how to grow a motorsports platform better than anyone. The Hulman George family hasn't a clue. Stirling Apex

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