Full throttle for Formula One as its kids’ fan engagement outpaces football, says The Insights Family

More children are tuning in to the Formula One brand than ever before, with numbers rising by 2.85 million in key European markets alone, and outpacing the growth rate of fans flocking to football, new research from The Insights Family has revealed.

The global motorsport brand has witnessed a 17 per cent year on year increase, from 17.3 million to 20.1 million, representing a faster growth rate than football, which, according to the company, only grew by six per cent.

Finding from a recent study commissioned by Formula One will now go on to help shape the brand’s approach in engaging with the generation of fans as it continues to build on a digital infrastructure it has created since Liberty Media took over back in 2017.

Working with The Insights Family, F1 ran a combination of qualitative and quantitative research across seven markets with a total sample size of 162,774 kids aged 12-18 with the objective of understanding what the ‘fan of the future’ looks like. Key findings from the research uncovered a varying shift in interests of the younger generation.

These findings include that:

  • Generation Z now has a greater level of interest in esports than traditional sports.
  • Instagram and TikTok are where young people are consuming content now, rather than Twitter and Facebook.
  • Content on the official F1 social media channels was very well received by the group.
  • Having behind the scenes access helps them understand more about the sports participants and their back stories. Those interested in the engineering and innovation of F1 cars are particularly attracted to documentaries too.
  • ‘Drive To Survive’ viewers tended to enjoy it thoroughly and valued the additional insight it gave them.
  • There was strong interest in hearing about the history of F1, including the evolution of the cars and icons of the sport.
  • Interest in engineering and technology was more often spoken about as an entry point than races themselves, with UK 10-18s who aspire to be an engineer being 86% more likely than average to watch F1.

Despite sport in general fiercely competing with music, video games, film and TV, technology, and fashion for the attention of the younger generation, the efforts of F1 to put its own stamp on these areas of modern culture have already reaped rewards.

F1 is currently the second fastest growing sport on social media with a year-on-year growth of 36 per cent, as fans continue to flock to the platforms for race highlights, driver content and behind the scenes clips, with Instagram and TikTok especially crucial for the 15-18 age range. YouTube also continues to be a prominent channel for young fans – an area F1 has already explored, streaming the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix free on the platform in selected markets.

“Whilst there is no surprise that the binging of TV shows is now a huge part of people’s lives, there has never been more demand for sports documentaries, recounting iconic moments or giving insight into the personal lives of sporting heroes,” says The Insights Family. “That notion was evident within these focus groups as they crave behind the scenes access and more information on the lives and back stories of the F1 drivers.

“The popularity of Emmy-nominated docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’ on Netflix is undeniable as the production provides insight from the drivers at the heart of the action through dramatic storytelling. Additionally, the history and engineering of the sport also captured the attention of the participants. As part of the sport’s 70th Anniversary celebrations in 2020, F1 produced ‘Race to Perfection’ with Sky Sports detailing the innovation and pioneering nature of the sport as some of the world’s most powerful vehicles have developed over the last seven decades.”

Globally, 41 per cent of kids aged three to 18 now engage with esports, marking a 22 per cent increase year-on-year according to the report. The firm’s research also indicates that Generation Z now has a greater level of interest in esports than traditional sports, an area F1 is already strong in given the success of the F1 Esports Series events and Virtual Grands Prix, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The likes of Lando Norris, George Russell, and Charles Leclerc were the stars of the show, as the Virtual Grands Prix series achieved over 30m views across TV and digital, and the record-breaking 2020 F1 Esports Pro Series saw a 98 per cent increase on viewership from the previous year,” says The Insights Family.

Research found younger males especially are huge fans of the official F1 video games because it ‘gives them the chance to feel what it is like to be in the cockpit of the car’, as well as see the world’s most iconic race circuits at track level. Esports and gaming has been key for F1 as an entry point to fandom as the younger generation continues to become increasingly embedded in the virtual world.

Interest in engineering and technology was also a common entry point, with many of the participants expressing ‘fascination at the extraordinary innovation on show throughout the sport.’ STEM education has become an important subject for F1, and the brand notes that this ‘will continue through the reaffirmed WeRaceAsOne movement’, which was made earlier this year, as well as the upcoming Aramco F1 in Schools World Finals which took place in June.

The Insights Family data shows that teens who favour STEM subjects at school are 64 per cent more likely to be a fan of F1.

Ellie Norman, director of marketing and communications at Formula 1®, said: “We are always thinking of creative and innovative ways to engage with new audiences and showcasing the sport that hundreds of millions of fans around the world already know and love, so it’s great to see that the work we’re doing to target new and younger audiences is paying dividends.

“Through the use of social and digital platforms, we’ve been able to break down our often complex sport for the next generation of fans, as they begin their own Formula 1® journey.”

Nick Richardson, founder and CEO at The Insights Family, said: “This generation are super-informed and constantly connected. They have access at a very young age to every bit of content they could possibly want. This presents both challenges and opportunities for content creators, brands, and properties.

“The proactive approach of Formula 1®, to invest in research and develop a new generation of fan strategy is very much a best-in-class approach. The results we have seen in our Kids Insights trackers across their key markets speak for itself – it’s working.”

Formula One’s Williams Racing taps The Point. 1888 to drive extensive licensing programme

The Point. 1888 has been tapped to drive Williams Racing’s brand licensing programme into pole position with an extensive range of new products for the Williams fanbase.

Synonymous with top level motorsport since the 1960s, Williams is one of the world’s leading Formula 1 teams, racing in the top echelon or motor racing, where it has won grands prix for more than three decades.

The Point. 1888 will now work with the team to extend its licensing operation using its ‘retail-first methodology’ to ‘reverse engineer the licensing process’ and select licensing partners that align with Williams’ core values. Matching the team with the right companies will open a host of new opportunities for engagement on a global scale, helping boost revenue and brand affiliation for Williams Racing.

Tim Hunt, commercial and marketing director for Williams Racing, said: “We are excited to have The Point.1888 on board to extend our brand licensing programme and to enable us to work with businesses we never thought we would. Through careful consideration of the types of products that will suit our purpose and values, we have the opportunity to increase our fan-base and build on our brand affiliation. We look forward to working The Point.1888 and seeing the incredible results.”

Hannah Stevens, head of retail and sports at The Point.1888, added: “As a huge F1 fan, I have admired the Williams Racing team for many years and I’m thrilled to be able to work with them on this iconic sporting brand as they take their first major steps into the world of licensing  and help fans to find new ways to engage with this incredible sport.”

Brand’s Hatched: Formula One’s race for the toy aisle

If there’s something not many of us were expecting for 2020, it surely has to be that Formula One is looking to speed into the toy aisle with its first official toy line for kids and collectors alike.

Upon momentary reflection, however, it actually makes perfect sense. The F1 brand isn’t exactly new to the industry, having previously sat within its parameters, most notably via a successful partnership with the Scalextric brand in years gone by, while Formula One has been growing its presence in the consumer products space steadily.

Most recently, the racing franchise may have appeared to have put its foot on the brakes, maintaining only a couple of long- lasting licensing partnerships in the video games market and in part works. It wasn’t until 2018 that it decided to refocus.

A partnership with the licensing agency, CAA-GBG in tow, Formula One has been systematically extending its brand into a new consumer product categories such as merchandise, health and beauty, digital gaming, streetwear collaborations, and more, with a portfolio of new products and collaborations lined up for the year ahead.

Most interesting is that the brand now has its sights firmly locked on toys.

“Our licensing programme focuses on the F1 brand, and after doing a very thorough research and analysis, we believe there is a demand from our fans all over the world for a wide range of Formula One toys,” Joan Carrera López, senior manager, retail and CPG licensing at Formula One, tells Licensing.biz.

“In terms of assets, we have very recently announced the 2021 regulations and have an amazing 3D model of the 2021 car that can be fully customised and adapted to a number of categories and opportunities some 15 months before the teams actually unveil their cars.”

A recent history of the Formula One brand saw it acquired by Liberty Media at the start of 2017 and soon after announced the re-launch of its brand transformation with a fresh new-look logo hitting the world stage by 2018. It was a move that seems to have fuelled a drive for brand extension ever since.

“We are an entertainment and lifestyle brand whose DNA is all about innovation, technology, and performance,” continues López. “New and exciting licensing partnerships will be announced in the upcoming months, and we expect to keep growing the brand and serving our fans.

“We already have a successful educational programme called F1 in Schools that works with a significant number of schools and students worldwide. Formula One is therefore a very aspirational brand that is synonymous with technology, and our ambition is to extend our brand into new and innovative products that will allow kids to learn, play, and have fun.”

It will come as little surprise then that of the categories Formula One is targeting for its toy debut, include ride-ons, models, remote controlled toys and slot cars, construction toys, and of course the growing STEM toy sector.

Actually, it all couldn’t be better timing for the F1 brand. The coming years will mark the onset of a number of changes that will certainly reposition the brand, including big changes in 2021 to the rules that govern the sport itself; technical rules that will “create closer wheel to wheel racing and reduce the gap between the front and back of the grid,” states López.

Presumably, Formula One is looking to inject yet more adrenaline into the sport. And with these rules, come new look cars.

“As part of the creation of the rules, Formula One has designed a car that is both futuristic and more akin to the look of a traditional F1 car,” explains López. “The fan feedback so far has been very positive and we think it will really excite the fans.”

It’s also expected that among those fans, will be a new generation of youngsters looking to experience the Formula One brand through new consumer products, including a portfolio of toy products.

López adds: “Our data shows that F1 has a broad audience in terms of age and gender, and since the Liberty Media acquisition, it is not a surprise that the majority of our new F1 fans are younger than before. We want the sport to be closer to our fans, and toys is definitely a great platform to do so, allowing parents and kids to share their passion.

“That’s why we’re looking for leading and established toy brands that we can collaborate with, as well as best-in-class manufacturers to develop innovative and quality F1 mono-branded toys. For the time
being, we’re not looking to develop products in- house, but we’ll obviously guide licensees to create true to brand toys.”

When it comes to distribution, Formula One comes with its own tailored and curated retail platforms, underscoring the benefits of a brand that already has its own footprint and franchise model in the global marketing space.

“Being part of the F1 family comes with important benefits such as distribution through our owned trackside and online stores,” adds López, “as well as access to our digital channels and advertising.”

And at a time when franchising has become a core component to the success of a toy line and brand, it’s surely a rather appetising prospect.

Read the Toy Fair special issue of ToyNews today for plenty of licensing updates…

The Toy Fair special issue of ToyNews is ready to read online, on your smart device or iPad – giving you look at the year ahead and the trends that will be hitting the toy industry the most.

It’s the first ToyNews of 2020, and of the decade, making this not only – with London Toy Fair right around the corner – our Toy Fair issue, but also our chance to cast our predictions for what’s going to be setting the agenda for the coming year.

And it’s packed with news of all the latest developments within toys and licensing, too; whether that’s talk of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe, the latest good news story from the licensing powerhouse that is Games Workshop and the Warhammer franchise, or what plans Formula One now has for toys and the wider licensing space.

Of course, we’ll be diving into Spring Fair once again, and stop by with pop culture licensing specialists, Fanattik and Pyramid International to get their takes on the scene.

As ever, we kick off proceedings with the usual ToyNews wealth of ever-engaging and always exclusive content thanks to our Big Interview with Mattel’s VP and country manager, Michael Hick as we explore why 2020 is going to be a major year for the global toy powerhouse – and it’s not only with thanks to the return of He-Man…

Setting the tone for how we foresee bigger movements from the retail space, and the industry as a whole, towards inclusivity and accessibility for all of its audiences, we explore topics of autism and the toy industry, as well as games and puzzles and mental health, and all those wonderful people pushing this industry and the important messages ever-forward.

Our cover star of this month’s feature-packed issue, Generation Media, talks us through its evolution over the past decade, and, as we embark on a whole new one, sets out just what might be in store for the children’s media space.

As Asmodee UK announces its partnership with Mojo Nation to check out the art and design talent with the UK university student’s scene, we explore the topic of the evolving artwork of board games and tabletop titles, and how important it is to driving the success of some of the scene’s biggest sellers.

Of course, we at ToyNews like to champion the talent of the industry’s rising stars… and it turns out, you lot do too. This year, we have been inundated with nominations for our annual 30 Under 30 – sponsored by Gameplan Europe – making the task of whittling it down to just 30 a very difficult one indeed. It’s uplifting to see this industry continue to nurture and celebrate the talent of the up and coming generation, as well as to see the parameters of this business extending wider year after year.

Then, as Hornby turns 100 this year, we sit down with the hobby and model specialist to discover just how the team will be celebrating, and find out what plans this heritage and staple of British history and culture has got planned to continue to grow its audiences well into the future.

From one Great British success story to another, ToyNews talks exclusively to Games Workshop, a thriving retail, gaming, and licensing business that continues to go from strength to strength, as well as get the inside, exclusive track on Formula One’s plans to enter the toy space this year. Both making for a fascinating read this season – if we do say so ourselves.

There’s more to come still, as ToyNews dives into this year’s toy fair offerings with show guides covering Spring Fair, Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse, and of course, London Toy Fair.

On top of this, no ToyNews would be complete without its run of exclusive regulars, including the agenda setting opinions from industry voices, the latest industry insights, and our expert panel of retail specialists.

Read all of this and more here.