SponsorPulse Insight | What drives the Japanese motorsport market?

SponsorPulse lifts the lid on the motorsport market in Japan to highlight the opportunities for brands and rights holders.

In a controversial and unsatisfying finish for the 2020 edition of the 'greatest spectacle in racing', Takuma Sato won his second Indy 500 race in four years.

The Japanese-native claimed victory at the near-empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway and has continued to put his nation on the map in the world of motorsports. While there is no doubting how big of a star Sato is in Japan, we took the opportunity to analyse motorsports in general in the country to see what sort of opportunities are present in racing.

Using SponsorPulse data, we examined the impact of the IndyCar Series, Formula One, Formula E, MotoGP and Nascar in Japan to get better insight into its motorsport market.

Formula One has the greatest reach among series

With the resources that Formula One has, it is of no surprise that it sits at the top of our list with regards to engagement of population. The elite-racing competition reaches roughly one in four people, with one in five engaging with the property on a weekly basis. The other motorsport properties stack up relatively equally to one another, on average reaching between ten to 13 per cent of the population.

Property Avg Japanese engagement Gap to Formula One
Formula One 22%
IndyCar 13% -9%
MotoGP 13% -9%
Formula E 13% -9%
Nascar 10% -12%


*Average engagement amongst 13 to 64-year-olds

A growing market with a mid-highly identified fan base

The key role of sports marketing managers is to increase the connection fans share with their leagues, teams and events. One way of measuring this bond is to identify the percentage of fans who are passionate about the sport and are excited about what it offers. In that regard, although Formula One has the greatest level of excitement among the population (one in two people), more than one in three people are excited about rivals IndyCar and Formula E.

A major factor likely contributing to the excitement surrounding IndyCar in Japan could be Takuma Sato and his recent success in the series, especially his titles and top-three finishes over the past few years. While one in four people are passionate about Formula One, 11 to 15 per cent of people feel similar connection to the other major motorsport competitions.

Property Avg Japanese excitement Gap to Formula One
Formula One 50%
Formula E 37% -13%
IndyCar 36% -14%
MotoGP 19% 31%
Nascar 16% 34%

*Average engagement amongst 13 to 64-year-olds

Property Avg Japanese passion Gap to Formula One
Formula One 24%
IndyCar 15% -9%
Formula E 12% -12%
MotoGP 11% -13%
Nascar 11% -13%

*Average engagement amongst 13 to 64-year-olds

Understanding the people who value these partnerships the most

While Formula One may have the furthest reach of all motorsport series in Japan, it is important to remember that passionate fans often feel strongly about brands that sponsor their favourite sports.

We measured the percentage of people who would more likely consider a brand which has a motorsport sponsorship and found that IndyCar shares top of the podium with Formula One. 

Property Avg Japanese consideration Gap to Formula One
Formula One 16%
IndyCar 16%
Nascar 10% -6%
Formula E 8% -8%
MotoGP 8% -8%

*Average engagement amongst 13 to 64-year-olds

As is the case with Sato and IndyCar Series, we can see the power of a local celebrity-athlete and how they can drive a property forward in areas that it traditionally did not excel. Another example can be seen in the increase of popularity of Italian soccer giants Juventus in Portugal after the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Regardless of what sector you represent, data and consumer insights can help drive positive results on investments to generate greater returns and profit. It is important to keep up-to-date with the current trends and statistics, as this context is what helps businesses stay relevant. Leading brands, properties and agencies all use data to focus on where the greatest opportunities lie, especially during a time with so much uncertainty and ambivalence.


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