Race fans continue to ‘embrace engagement’
Nearly two-thirds of NASCAR fans are more likely to consider trying a company’s product or service if that brand is an official sponsor of the sport, according to the results of the sixth annual NASCAR Sponsor Loyalty survey, conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.
That 63 percent response rate — 73 percent among avid fans, 52 percent among casual fans — is greater than the comparable percentages for fans of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and the PGA Tour, based on similar annual surveys of fans of those sports. The numbers also are up from 50.5 percent among avid NASCAR fans and 25.5 percent among casual fans in 2008.
|NASCAR President Mike Helton (left) helps Goodyear in its work with the Support Our Troops Foundation. |
“Historically, official-partner brands with the highest awareness levels are those that are involved across the entire sport and have fully integrated activation,” said Brian Moyer, NASCAR’s managing director of market and media research. “Our fans embrace engagement and experiences, and partners like Sprint, Nationwide, Coca-Cola and MillerCoors are just a few of the many brands that created digital media and social media-driven campaigns in 2012 to engage fans online, at retail and at track.”
NASCAR fans also are well in tune with Goodyear, the sport’s official tire supplier. According to the survey results, more than 67 percent of fans surveyed correctly identified Goodyear as holding category rights in NASCAR. That percentage is higher than any other company’s response rate among the other sports properties studied. No. 2 on that list is FedEx for its rights with the PGA Tour, where 60 percent of the tour’s fans could correctly identify FedEx as being an official sponsor of the tour. Next in line are Gatorade in the NFL (57 percent), followed by two more partnerships for NASCAR: Coca-Cola at 53 percent, and Sprint at 48 percent.
Among other efforts, Goodyear gained exposure among NASCAR fans this year through its work with the Support Our Troops Foundation. The brand delivered more than 10,000 packages to military troops in Afghanistan after it created two care-package drive events at tracks this summer, garnering donations and support from fans and from other NASCAR partners.
Other survey notables:
■ Nationwide had its best showing ever in the study. More than 41 percent of all fans were aware of Nationwide’s status as the official insurance company of NASCAR (54 percent among avids, 29 percent among casual fans). Its 18 percentage-point increase in response rate is also the biggest year-over-year improvement in the survey among all brands tracked in the study.
■ Coors was the only official sponsor not to top a rival brand. However, since 2007, Coors’ overall awareness numbers have jumped from 6.8 percent to 25.8 percent, while rival Anheuser-Busch has dropped from 70.8 percent to 39.1 percent. A-B was NASCAR’s official beer from 1987 through 2007 before Coors Light took over in 2008.
■ Two sponsor brands saw year-over-year declines in awareness, but both remained ahead of their respective rivals.
Sprint’s response rate of 47.9 percent among all fans is down 6 percentage points from 2011 and down nearly 20 percentage points from 2008, but the number remains about four times greater than the response rate for Verizon. While Sprint is working from a market-share disadvantage against Verizon — Verizon holds about 40 percent of the country’s wireless customers compared with Sprint’s 15 percent — Sprint was NASCAR’s top TV advertiser in 2012, spending $23.2 million through Sept. 30, according to Nielsen data.
Visa, one of NASCAR’s most-tenured partners at 14 years, saw its recognition rate among avid fans drop almost 8 percentage points, but it scored its best mark ever in the survey among casual fans, at 35.7 percent.
For this project, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of more than 400 members of the Toluna online panel who were at least 18 years old.
Respondents were screened and analyzed based on general avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were ones who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of NASCAR?” and then claimed to “look up news, scores and standings several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 21 races per season” and “have a favorite driver.” Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial question, then claimed to “look up news, scores and standings several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least five races per season” and “have a favorite driver.”
When asked to identify official sponsors, respondents selected from a field of companies and brands that was provided to them for each business sector. The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4.9 percent. Ad spending totals are from Nielsen and represent estimated spending on NASCAR broadcasts on Fox, ABC, ESPN/ESPN2, TNT and Speed based on network-provided rate cards.
Turnkey works with more than 70 retainer-based clients across the major professional leagues in North America, including several tracks, teams and brands involved in motorsports.
|Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/ service is an official sponsor of NASCAR?|
|Unaffected / less likely||27%||30%||35%||48%||54%||60%|
|Are you more or less likely to recommend a product/service to a friend or family member if that product/service is an official sponsor of NASCAR?|
|Unaffected / less likely||29%||28%||36%||56%||53%||61%|
|Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of NASCAR?|
|Unaffected / less likely||26%||26%||34%||50%||50%||56%|
SPONSORSHIP SIGNIFICANCE AND ASSESSMENT
Subject: How much more likely are fans to consider purchasing/using a NASCAR sponsor’s product/service if they are aware of the relationship?
To read: 49 percent of NASCAR fans said they would be more likely to consider purchasing NASCAR’s official beer if they knew which brand had that designation. The rate increased to 71 percent when considering only those NASCAR fans who correctly knew that Coors Light is NASCAR’s official beer.
|Category||Among All MLB Fans||Among MLB Fans Who Correctly Identified Sponsor||Difference|
|Beer (Coors Light)||49%||71%||+22 percentage points|
|Passenger truck (Ford)||46%||62%||16|
|Credit card (Visa)||42%||56%||14|
|Bank (Bank of America)||38%||51%||13|
|Delivery service (UPS)||49%||61%||12|
|Motor oil (Mobil 1)||58%||64%||6|
|Soft drink (Coca-Cola)||56%||56%||0|
Subject: What brands do fans think should be NASCAR sponsors?
To read: 76 percent of NASCAR fans said they think Goodyear should be a NASCAR sponsor, compared with 43 percent who think Bridgestone should have a NASCAR deal. Those numbers became 86 percent and 42 percent, respectively, when considering only those NASCAR fans who correctly knew that Goodyear is NASCAR’s official tire.
|Among all NASCAR fans||Among NASCAR Fans Who |
Correctly Identified Sponsor
|MLB Sponsor/Competitor||Response Rates||Difference||Response Rates||Difference|
|Goodyear/Bridgestone||76% / 43%||+33 percentage points||86% / 42%||+44 percentage points|
|Mobil 1/Castrol Edge||56% / 45%||11||83% / 46%||37|
|Sprint/AT&T||51% / 39%||12||71% / 39%||32|
|Visa/MasterCard||56% / 36%||20||68% / 39%||29|
|Nationwide/State Farm||50% / 45%||5||78% / 51%||27|
|Bank of America/Wells Fargo||37% / 30%||7||52% / 27%||25|
|Coca-Cola/Pepsi||68% / 55%||13||80% / 55%||25|
|UPS/FedEx||58% / 55%||3||71% / 52%||19|
|Ford (F-150)/Chevrolet (Silverado)||51% / 45%||6||58% / 40%||18|
|Coors Light/Bud Light||49% / 55%||-6||70% / 54%||16|
Which of the following is an official sponsor of NASCAR?
|I’m not sure||8.0%||10.0%||16.9%||23.6%||16.9%||27.1%|
Coca-Cola has been NASCAR’s official soda since 1998. Its agreement is set through 2017, and it has the pouring rights at 18 of the 22 Sprint Cup tracks. The company once again sponsored the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte) and Coke Zero 400 (Daytona). New in 2012 was the addition of Danica Patrick to the Coke family of drivers. Patrick raced in 10 Sprint Cup races this season, including the two races title-sponsored by Coke.
|I’m not sure||16.0%||14.4%||29.0%||39.7%||29.7%||35.7%|
Nationwide, which this year finished its fifth season of a seven-year deal as NASCAR’s official insurer, saw the biggest overall jump in recognition rate among all fans of all brands measured in the survey, up 17.8 percentage points. Endorsers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick appeared in a new ad this summer, broadcast nationally on television and radio during NASCAR and other sports broadcasts as well as on NASCAR.com.
|I’m not sure||27.5%||19.4%||33.8%||28.6%||30.3%||38.7%|
Chevrolet in 2012 had its highest recognition level among all fans (40.1 percent) since garnering 48 percent in our inaugural survey in 2007. Jimmie Johnson’s win in the AAA Texas 500 was the 700th all-time victory for Chevy in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Chevrolet also won the Manufacturers’ Championship for a 10th consecutive year. Dodge, meanwhile, saw Brad Keselowski bring the brand its first championship since Richard Petty won with a Dodge Charger in 1975, but it comes as a farewell prize of sorts. Dodge announced this summer that it is pulling its cars and its sponsorship from Sprint Cup competition after this year.
|Bank of America*||39.7%||28.4%||27.5%||35.2%||25.6%||27.1%|
|I’m not sure||38.7%||22.9%||42.0%||47.2%||37.4%||47.7%|
Bank of America, NASCAR’s official bank since 2007, reversed a two-year decline with a 9.5 percentagepoint increase in overall awareness among all fans. The Charlotte-based bank did not renew contracts at four Sprint Cup venues owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. that expired after the 2011 season (Las Vegas, Texas, Atlanta and Sonoma) and dropped all five of its International Speedway Corp. sponsorships (Daytona, Fontana, Kansas City, Phoenix and Watkins Glen). It did, however, retain title sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
|I’m not sure||18.5%||14.4%||21.7%||26.1%||24.1%||26.6%|
UPS saw a 3.2 percentage-point increase among all fans in this year’s survey despite a reduction in activation. Most notably, the company shifted from a full-season primary sponsorship of David Ragan’s No. 6 car in 2011 to an associate sponsorship of Carl Edwards’ No. 99 car in 2012. FedEx, meanwhile, received on-track exposure through Denny Hamlin’s 17 top 10 finishes, including five wins, driving the No. 11 FedEx Express car. FedEx also continued its title sponsorship at Dover’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
|I’m not sure||35.5%||17.9%||30.0%||37.7%||32.8%||39.7%|
Visa remained the clear leader in this category though its mark among avid fans declined this year. For the second consecutive year, JPMorgan Chase’s credit card division, Chase Card Services, signed on as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 AARP Foundation Chevy driven by Jeff Gordon. The AARP Visa Card from Chase logo appeared on the hood of Gordon’s car for five Sprint Cup Series races.
|I’m not sure||13.0%||11.4%||23.2%||25.1%||20.0%||23.1%|
Coors Light took over as NASCAR’s beer partner in 2008, and following a slight drop last year, its awareness numbers hit an all-time high this year — though it still trails A-B, the prior sponsor in the category. The Coors Light partnership with NASCAR, a deal that was extended for five years in January, includes the weekly Coors Light Pole Award for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. Miller, meanwhile, saw its awareness numbers hit a three-year low in the survey despite having visibility on the No. 2 Dodge driven by 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski.
|I’m not sure||7.0%||NA||NA||18.1%||NA||NA|
Goodyear’s recognition scores were the highest marks for any sponsor in this year’s survey. At the start of the year, at Daytona International Speedway, Goodyear set up a display for the first time featuring a 15-by- 40-foot Plinko game where fans could drop a tire down a board filled with pegs and win a prize if it landed on a large Goodyear logo at the bottom. The activation attracted on average more than 1,000 fans a day.
|I’m not sure||36.5%||NA||NA||44.2%||NA||NA|
Ford, the official truck of NASCAR since 1998, was a sponsor of the NASCAR After the Lap Sweepstakes, with a grand-prize package that included a 2013 Ford F-150. This season also was the 11th year Ford has served as title sponsor of Ford Championship Weekend, the final NASCAR weekend of the season.
|I’m not sure||13.5%||9.5%||14.5%||26.6%||19.5%||21.6%|
Sprint, title sponsor of NASCAR’s top-level circuit, remains the clear leader in the wireless category for fan recognition, but its 47.9 percent score among all fans is an all-time low for the brand in the survey. Sprint this year teamed with fellow sponsor Ford for a contest in which a fan won a 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium and a trip for two to Las Vegas for this week’s NASCAR After the Lap ceremony. Fans could enter online or at the Sprint Experience mobile-marketing at-track display featured at races.