In MotoGP, MotoGP

After the Global Fan survey on Formula 1 comes finally, super fresh, the research on fans of the longest-running championship in motorsport history:

Again in collaboration with motorsport network and Nielsen, this is the first truly global survey of fans of the queen of two wheels. The data were presented at the San Marino MotoGP Grand Prix at the Misano Adriatico circuit.

The public response was really good: in fact, more than 109,000 fans in 179 countries around the world responded to the survey, truly remarkable global feedback.

The data collected is an important strategic tool for all those working in MotoGP, as well as for companies that invest or want to invest in sports sponsorship in this discipline.

Indeed, knowing what the public’s opinions are, how they see the sport, what they prefer, what they would like, how they behave, is essential information for knowing how to improve the product and adapt it to the needs of the fans and the passing and changing times. Knowing whether the path you are following is the correct one, possibly questioning yourself and using data constructively is critical in any business and for any product. If it is then something to do with sports and entertainment, it becomes a must: the range of offerings available to the public today is increasingly broad, and fans are looking for more and more interaction and engagement.

The live sports show alone is beginning to fall short; audiences are looking for more, they want to go deeper, they want to be more involved, they are no longer mere spectators. Sports properties must therefore understand what the behaviors and needs of their audiences are, respond and adapt if necessary.

But let us first look specifically at who participated in the MotoGP research.

Who responded to the MotoGP Fan Survey?

Having a large, representative, and global sample is critical in order to collect correct and useful data. In this research, both the number of participants and the amount of time spent answering the many questions demonstrated the desire on the part of fans to make an active contribution to the discipline: 109,676 responses from fans analyzed in 179 countries were taken into account, taking more than 27,300 hours to answer all the questions.

The European audience accounts for 65 percent of the total number of respondents, and the top five countries in terms of number of responses are Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States. Then 19 percent come from Asia and 13 percent from the Americas. A quick comparison with its four-wheeled cousin: the survey done on Formula 1 fans saw a sample of more than 167,000 responses, coming from 187 countries around the world.

Young, passionate and loyal: these are the respondents to the MotoGP survey

A predominantly young audience responded, with an average age of 36 years and 4 months. The youngest and newest fans are from Europe and Asia-Pacific, where 45% and 47% of respondents were under 35 years old. A figure that could be expected being these are the areas where MotoGP has always been strongest.

One detail to be noted with pleasure is the presence of more than 13,500 responses that came from a female fan base, representing more than 13% of the total sample. Women are more typically found in the younger age group: in fact, 56 percent of female fans are between the ages of 16 and 34, and more than a third have been following the sport for less than five years.

A generally very loyal audience, especially in Europe and Asia-Pacific, where more than 65 percent of fans have been following MotoGP for more than ten years, while more than 80 percent of fans have been following it for six years or more.

How do fans view MotoGP?

When we talk about sports, the value aspect of individual sports is crucial. It is for the property, first of all, because you have to be sure that you are perceived and seen by your fans as you have worked and are working to be.

If the strategy you are following and all the actions taken are aimed at being seen as entertaining and then the fan says you are boring, clearly there is a problem. This is important to know for teams, in this case, who when they go looking for sponsors and partners need to know how the sport they participate in is viewed.

It is important for companies that invest in sports property, or plan to invest in it, because they need to know what values they can identify with in order to create their marketing and communication activities and subsequently all sports sponsorship activations.

Motogp fans

What are the adjectives that identify MotoGP?

The top-rated adjectives representing MotoGP for fans are: exciting, competitive, fun, world class and unpredictable.

If we take the research on Formula 1, we immediately notice some differences:
Formula 1
it is also seen as exciting and fun but also technological and expensive. Two adjectives that can certainly make a difference on the type of companies that invest in one discipline versus the other. Technology, especially now with the explosion of Web3.0, is a core value for Formula 1 that constantly attracts so many companies that want to associate themselves with this very value.

Technology and development are also crucial in MotoGP, but it is clear that fans do not see it as readily as they do in Formula 1. This is probably something that Dorna and the teams should work on better in terms of perception and communication.

But back to the qualities that fans identify in MotoGP:

  • Thrilling racing – 94%
  • Track action – 91%
  • Tight competition – 91%
  • Introducing the world’s best riders – 90%

Fans also believe that MotoGP is doing well when it comes to:

  • Presenting the best pilots – 85%
  • Being the pinnacle of motor sports – 84%.
  • Being the most exciting motor series in the world – 79%.

However, 66 percent, a significant percentage of fans, believe the sport needs to do more to attract new fans.

This data is all very positive; it is clear that as it is structured, a MotoGP race is much easier to watch and understand than, say, Formula 1. And even shorter, in 40 minutes, if all goes well, the race is over. The aspect therefore to be improved is not the action on the track, or the drivers racing or the teams, or how the race is structured. The aspect to be improved is fan engagement.

How do they watch MotoGP?

The research reveals that television is still the preferred medium for following live races, while social media is the preferred source for watching non-live content. Television is followed by laptop and mobile, but remains strongly the preference both now and in the future. 82% of the sample watch more than 15 races and 90% watch the entire race. 41% of fans frequently use MotoGP’s digital and social media platforms, Instagram being the most used social media during the race weekend, followed only by Youtube.

MotoGP is a tribal sport, not parochial.

One aspect emerges strongly that we often emphasize to the companies we interface with when we talk about investing in motorsports sponsorship. Compared to many other sports, especially compared to team sports, motorsport is less parochial and much more tribal.

What does it mean that motorsport is tribal? It means that the public is rooting for the discipline as a whole, not rooting avidly for one specific team, or one driver, and especially not rooting against it. Clearly, fans have preferences, especially if we reason territorially, but they value more than one driver and more than one team, and they love the discipline as a whole.

It’s clear that in Italy there are a lot of Ferrarista or Ducatista fans, but there are a lot of fans of other teams and other drivers, and the fan who goes to watch a race appreciates the whole spectacle and all the protagonists.

And that is exactly what the MotoGP research also shows: about 63 percent of fans root for and like different teams and riders, while 14 percent are impartial toward everyone who races. Only 17 percent of fans root for one driver, and less than 6 percent follow one team more than all others. What is even more surprising is that more than 15 percent of fans do not have a favorite team.

Riders and teams: who are the favorites?

Ducati, Yamaha and Aprilia are the top 3 most liked teams for 48 percent of fans, with Yamaha being more liked than Ducati among younger, female fans.

Fabio Quartararo certainly is the influencer of this response, as he is also the most liked rider on the grid, ahead of Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia.

If we talk instead about races and circuits, the Dutch GP, in Assen, is the most watched race in the last five years, followed by Mugello, Misano, Barcelona and Valencia.

Interestingly, more than 60 percent of fans consider the Italian GP at Mugello to be the key and most important race on the calendar. It may be that the circuit is spectacular, the outline of the Tuscan countryside is unique, the food incredible…in short, it is the must-have destination of the championship.

What about the sponsors? How does the fan perceive them and what do they think of them?

This is a part of the research that, for us in sports marketing and
sponsorship in motorsport
, is particularly interesting and important.

We have various research that tells us that sports fans have a positive attitude toward brands that sponsor sports and that when making a purchase they prefer that brand over a brand that does not invest in sports.

This is a very important point when we tell why sports sponsorship is an effective marketing tool; the passion that the sponsoring company shares with the fan is unique, and the emotional bond that unites them turns into a predisposition to purchase and trust that other brands do not have.

According to the Nielsen Trust in Advertising 2021 study, 81% of respondents globally there is trust of brand sponsorships at sporting events. Sports sponsorship is the third most trusted communication channel by the public, only after word of mouth and branded sites and before TV ads, online ads, social media, etc.

Another key aspect that differentiates sports from most traditional communication channels is the inclusion of the advertising message. Traditional advertising interrupts us, we pay not to watch it; sports is included in what we like, which we choose to watch week after week, for years. Sports sponsorship does not interrupt but is part of what we love.

Sponsorships, therefore, are effective because they not only provide great global visibility but also because they are well perceived by consumers. MotoGP fans appreciate the input that sponsor brands bring AND more. Fans value sponsors and prefer the products and services of MotoGP sponsors over non-sponsor brands.

  • 51% of fans view sponsors’ products and services more favourably
  • Fans strongly believe that sponsorships improve the sport
  • MotoGP fans think more highly of the companies and brands that sponsor the championship
  • MotoGP fans are more likely to consider the products/services of companies that sponsor the championship.
  • 49% of male fans are more likely to buy products from a MotoGP sponsor.
  • 78 percent of all MotoGP fans believe that sponsorships contribute positively to the championship, a percentage that rises to more than 80 percent among fans over the age of 45.

Interesting and really useful data that you can find and read extensively in the full research that found at this link. There is in fact also a lot of interesting data on Egaming and fans’ relationship with esports.

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Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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