Racing, Racers, and Marketing
I decided to take a little time and write about something that is growing in popularity. I am very attracted to those who enjoy "speed," I do not mean the drug, but rather the velocity of an automobile, boat, motorcycle or any type of mechanical device. As such, I like being around people who like velocity as well, and who have a need for speed. This addiction is being taken to a level that the average Joe would not take it, and as such the growth of car racing. Let's take 2 people I know very well, Alex* races Ferraris, and Diego races BMWs. This is a sport that seems to be growing at tremendous speeds. (no pun intended :-) I see how obsessive this sport can be, and I started to think .. why? It intrigues me from a marketing perspective. My experience of racing is as I see it through my friends.. as an outsider I see them with their "babies" or "race-cars."
The way I see it, owning and riding a race-car can be a double-sided visceral experience. It goes beyond the freedom of zooming untethered along a windy stretch of open road. And for many, the race-car itself evokes fascination and rapture. After all, it's hard to find another product category where customers tattoo their bodies with the name of their car, where racers personify their cars and refer to them as "she," "my baby" and other loving terms.
This intense level of loyalty is at the heart of racing. I wonder why there has not been an accelerated marketing efforts to boost this small but passionate share of the U.S. amateur racing scene. Renowned for its exciting feeling of freedom and danger there's a critical opportunity to initiate a new member into the tribe known as "Racer" and keep him or her happy there for many years and miles to come. :-) So when I look at Alex and Diego and I start to think, what defines a racer? and I came up with the following, "It's a person who has a strong passion to differentiate himself and to partake in a unique culture of individuals." Is this a bit like being an "entrepreneur?" ;-)
From a marketing standpoint I see the "emotional connection" to be the most important. Clubs across the country organize their own series, and create racing seasons, as well as rallies. As I see it with my brief encounter with some of the racers I have witnessed - these guys (it's interesting to see that females are pretty much non-existent in this world) race cars largely for four reasons -- either pride of ownership and personal challenge, controllable risk and danger, insatiable competitive streak, or social companionship. But of course, since I am not a member of the racing 'tribe' or at least yet, I see this as an outsider looking in.