SponsorPulse Insight | Assessing Formula One as a sponsorship opportunity in South Africa

SponsorPulse has sifted through the data and analysed the commercial benefits of a Formula One return to South Africa.

So we’re racing in South Africa? Or at least we hope to be.

Formula One’s global director of race promotion Chloe Targett-Adams suggested recently that the series could return to the African continent during the BlackBook Motorsport Virtual Summit, saying: “Africa is a continent that we don't race in, and that is just wrong…It's somewhere that we very much want, it's the priority. We've been in talks with possible options for a few years.

“We're hoping that, ultimately, we will be able to achieve a race there in the near to mid-term.”

Using SponsorPulse data, we can represent the consumers’ voice and help Targett-Adams and her colleagues paint a clearer picture of Formula One’s performance in the African nation (and further afield). So let us dive in and see what the data tells us about Formula One as a sponsorship opportunity in South Africa…

Just how big is Formula One in South Africa?

There is simply no doubting the sheer size of Formula One as an international racing giant. The International Automobile Federation's (FIA) highest level of single-seater automobile racing is recognised and followed by fans from all around the globe; conducting almost all of its Grands Prix in different countries worldwide, visiting multiple continents each year.

Using the SponsorPulse opportunity score – the universal, insight-driven currency that helps measure and compare sponsorship opportunities instantly – it is possible to rank Formula One and other properties across 18 of the world’s largest markets to assess their performance and identify the areas of opportunity.

For example, Formula One performs most strongly in Italy, where it receives a SponsorPulse opportunity score of 45. In Spain and Brazil, the racing competition receives opportunity scores of 42 and 41, respectively. The country where Formula One receives the fourth highest opportunity score? You guessed it – South Africa. Receiving a SponsorPulse opportunity score of 36, Formula One is the 43rd ranked sponsorship opportunity overall in the African nation.

To add more context, Formula One’s opportunity scores in Australia, US, and Canada are 18, 13, and 13, respectively; demonstrating the potential that South Africa presents as a host for its own Grand Prix.

Formula One hasn't visited Africa since 1993

Now, there are myriad factors that go into the decisions on where to host Formula One events. Simply suggesting that the series should bring its product back to South Africa because of the nation’s affinity towards the sport would be irresponsible. However, the data suggests that there is a healthy following of Formula One in the African country and that at the very least the FIA should explore ways to continue building a strong connection with this group of consumers.

According to SponsorPulse data: 48 per cent of South Africans have engaged with Formula One at least once in the past year, and of that cohort 43 per cent are excited about the competition and what it has to offer. Of the original engaged group, 32 per cent claim their interest in the competition will likely increase over the next year, and 21-22 per cent claim they would be more favourable and more likely to consider purchasing from a brand that sponsors Formula One in a way that they like.

Another testament to the popularity of the series in South Africa can be seen in the performance of popular Formula One teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing. Mercedes and Ferrari both receive SponsorPulse opportunity scores of 39, while Red Bull Racing falls (not far) behind with a score of 34. As we can see, Formula One presents a viable opportunity for brands looking to connect with the South African consumer base.

Breaking down Formula One consumers in South Africa

The following are the top five purchasing categories that stand to benefit most from a partnership with Formula One in South Africa:

  • Sporting goods retailer (54 per cent)
  • Consumer electronics retailer (52 per cent)
  • Home improvement retailer (52 per cent)
  • Ride-sharing platform (50 per cent)
  • Food delivery service (50 per cent)

SponsorPulse data shows 54 per cent of people who have made a purchase from a sporting goods retailer in the past year have engaged with Formula One at least once over that timespan. The same can be said of the 52 per cent of those who have visited a consumer electronics or home improvement retailer.

Finally, 50 per cent of people who have purchased a ride from a ride-sharing program or ordered food from a food delivery service in the past year have also engaged with the series at least once.

SponsorPulse also collects data on digital usage behaviours, providing insight into the ways a property and its sponsors can meet and intercept the intended population. For example, the following are the top five digital usage behaviours for South Africans who have engaged with Formula One in the past year:

  • Uber (53 per cent)
  • Google Photos/Google Play (53 per cent/50 per cent)
  • YouTube TV (52 per cent)
  • Twitter (50 per cent)
  • Netflix (48 per cent)

To clarify, this indicates that that 48 per cent of people who have watched Netflix in the past year have engaged with Formula One at least once over that timespan. Not necessarily surprising given the popularity of Netflix’s docuseries 'Drive to Survive'.


To receive more sponsorship data on Formula One teams, events and other FIA properties, visit www.sponsorpulseimi.com.

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