Formula 1 has increased its number of active kid fans by 2.85 million in key European markets according to latest research from The Insights Family.
The 17% year-on-year increase, from 17.3 million to 20.1 million, represents a faster growth rate than football, which only grew by 6%.
Formula 1 has also announced findings from a recent study which will help shape its approach to engage with the next generation of fans as it continues to build on the impressive digital infrastructure it has created since Liberty Media took over in 2017.
Together with The Insights Family, a leading market research company focused on kids, parents, and families, 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. Across the surveys and several focus groups, the key findings were as follows:
- 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 a sport’s 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%, 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.
Globally, 41% of kids aged 3-18 now engage with esports, a 22% increase year-on-year according to the report. Generation Z now has a greater level of interest in esports than traditional sports, an area F1 is already incredibly 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% increase on viewership from the previous year.
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, seeing 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 always been an important subject for F1, and this will continue through the reaffirmed WeRaceAsOne commitment which was made earlier this year and the upcoming Aramco F1 in Schools World Finals which take place in June. The Insights Family® data shows that teens who favour STEM subjects at school are 64% more likely to be a fan of F1.