Brand loyalty is key

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2005

There is little doubt that, more than any other major sport, NASCAR depends of the revenue streams of sponsors. Countless companies spend anywhere from $500,000 per year for an associate sponsorship up to $18 million per year for a primary sponsorship on a top-notch team. It could be argued with little difficulty that without the ever-present corporate sponsorships, NASCAR as we know it would be non-existent.

Why are these major corporations so willing to spend that type of money to put their name on a racecar? That racecar makes cash registers ring, that’s why. NASCAR fans are fiercely loyal to not only their favorite driver, but to their favorite driver’s sponsor, as well. It’s a proven fact that a NASCAR sponsorship is one of the most effective marketing avenues that a company could utilize.

Performance Research is a company in Newport, Rhode Island that conducts surveys and marketing analysis for corporate sponsorships of sports and special events. Jed Pearsall, President of Performance Research, says &uot;NASCAR fans provide one of the highest levels of brand loyalty and sponsorship support of any one of the hundred or so sports and special events we’ve tested.&uot; That’s a strong statement.

Mr. Pearsall’s research also shows that 71% of NASCAR fans almost always or frequently choose a product involved in NASCAR than one that is not.

A fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is much more likely to drink Budweiser beer than another brand. Jimmie Johnson fans would rather shop at Lowe’s than Home Depot. In fact, a friend of mine, who is not a Jimmie Johnson fan, does not shop at Home Depot because of his dislike of Tony Stewart. You can find that silly if you want, but it is real and these companies know it is real. They know that when their driver is performing at a high level, their product will sell.

There are an estimated 30 million people consider themselves NASCAR fans. According to Larry DeGaris, director of James Madison University’s Center for Sports Sponsorship, 51% of those 30 million fans feel that when they purchase a NASCAR’s sponsor’s product, they are contributing to the sport. Additionally, 47% say that they like a brand more because it sponsors a NASCAR team.

We are talking big bucks. Why do you think every major beer company’s name is on the hood of a racecar? It’s because that can’t afford not to be involved. The breakfast cereal market in this country is several billion dollars a year. The two top players, General Mills and Kellogg’s, both sponsor race teams.

Richard Petty has been retired for over a decade and his teams have not won a race in six years. Despite that, you still see Petty’s face and name on countless products. The Petty name moves product. How many paper towels, headache relievers, honey, and cereal do think has been purchased because Richard Petty endorsed them? Plenty and you will continue to see his name and face because it works.

I guess the so-called Good Ole Boy sport has come a long way and is now a major player in the corporate world.