NASCAR Starts Loyalty Program

Discussion
Mar 07, 2005
Avatar

By John Hennessy

On Feb. 10, NASCAR launched the Official NASCAR Members Club in Daytona, Fl. The objective of the program is for NASCAR to reward members and, in the process, learn more about their fan base. Benefits include behind-the-scenes access, such as VIP treatment at races, plus special deals and offers, and NASCAR partner discounts.

Of course the benefits of membership come at a price. NASCAR is charging a $40 annual fee. They hope the 40 million of the sport’s 70 million fans they classify as “die-hard” will join the club.

“Unlike baseball and the NFL, there are no home teams in NASCAR, just a lot of tracks spread across the country,” said NASCAR VP-licensing Mark Dyer. “It’s hard for us to touch each individual community, but this will help. The driving force behind all of our projects is to make NASCAR fan-friendly. The better we do that with our fans, the more we can grow.”

NASCAR has put some muscle behind the program. Racing legend Richard Petty is the club’s chairman. The launch announcement was attended by NASCAR CEO Brian France and 13 of the top 17 racers.

“Affinity groups are usually cautious. They want to check a group out before making a decision to join,” says Dave Hickson, president of Stoneacre Partners, the Charlotte, NC-based firm that manages the program for NASCAR. “But the fact that these (NASCAR legends and executives) showed their support was a great endorsement for the club. It gave it legitimacy and shows that it is fully backed by NASCAR.”

Moderator’s Comment: Will 40 million NASCAR fans be willing to pay $40 a year for membership in a loyalty club?

Loyalty issues aside, the money at stake here is huge! If just 10% of the 40 million members NASCAR believes it can sign actually join the club, NASCAR
will generate $160 million from its loyalty program. For those scoring at home, that’s a whopping $1.6 billion if all 40 million die-hard fans enroll.

Those kinds of numbers should buy members a large amount of loyalty. But will it? This program could be crippled by success. Promises of special access
could be difficult to fulfill if everyone is a member. Think Hertz Gold Club. Do you know anyone who is not in the Hertz Gold Club? That program lost its “specialness” a long
time ago.

John Hennessy – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "NASCAR Starts Loyalty Program"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 8 months ago

I think the “70 million fans” number needs some emphasis. Those who are not one of the 70 million generally do not realize how many NASCAR fans there are: If you combine NBA, NFL, and MLB you almost come to what NASCAR does by itself. If you add in other forms of auto racing, auto racing is larger than the US viewership of all other US sports put together.

Worldwide, if you combine all forms of auto racing, auto racing is second only to soccer.

And, believe it or not, NASCAR is beginning to get some international flavor. Just this last weekend, they held a major event at an autodrome in Mexico City (on a road course that included left AND right turns, no less!).

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 8 months ago

I shall not sit in the scorner’s seat or hurl the cynics banner. If NASCAR fans are willing to cough up $40 to be included in a loyalty club, more power to NASCAR and the fans.
The program will probably work. History is full of more examples of the fidelity of dogs – and avid sports and entertainment fans – than of civic causes.

Peter Fader
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

OK, if Gene won’t “sit in the scorner’s seat or hurl the cynics banner,” I will do so quite gladly…

I don’t understand the NASCAR phenomenon and I don’t see long-term success for a program like this. Surely the folks who chose “over 25%” in the Instant Poll are mistaken. There’s no way that 10 million people will sign up for this. And even if the first-year numbers are impressive, I’m willing to bet that by year two of the program, the numbers will be quite modest.

Mark H. Goldstein
Guest
Mark H. Goldstein
15 years 8 months ago

Let’s make a bet here, John.

I bet NASCAR signs up 2,000,000 folks at $40/pop within first 12 months. That’s $80M in year one. I also bet the number is 3,000,000 if they deploy smart online viral techniques (i.e. member get a member).

U2 signed up over a million to their paid ‘fan club’ and, um, this is A LOT bigger.

If you are an affinity retailer or brand, a premium loyalty program is the lowest hanging fruit out there.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 8 months ago

NASCAR fans are so loyal that this will probably be a huge success. I can see it getting too big and them not being able to offer the special privileges because of the volume of people joining. NASCAR management has a good track record of motivating their fans. I think it will be a huge success for them.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 8 months ago

NASCAR could teach retailers a lot about loyalty. Their fans spend more than $40 on a T-shirt, for Pete’s sake. Membership in this new club will become a badge of honor for true believers. Remember, we’re talking about people who are willing to load up the RV, drive hundreds of miles annually to attend expensive racing venues, and spend untold amounts on food and memorabilia along the way. Take a look at the “Trackpass” feature at http://www.nascar.com. Thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of supposedly rational fans pay $9.95 A MONTH to subscribe.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 8 months ago

This is one heck of an enthusiastic group. And they have money – the average income for a NASCAR fan is above $50k. I think this will prove to be a very successful program. There are about 40 races per year at tracks across the country. So while it is a problem accommodating a lot of people, there is some capacity that is geographically dispersed. Frankly, if they really are offering VIP accommodations, then $40/year seems cheap. Loyalists can spend that in one year on bumper stickers.

It’ll be interesting to see how many other organizations take note.

Lisa Everitt
Guest
Lisa Everitt
15 years 8 months ago

I always wonder about the long-term viability of any quote loyalty program unquote that asks consumers to pay money to get discounts. (I understand that’s only one component of the NASCAR offer, but hear me out.)

It seems at cross purposes. If I am a discount-oriented person, why would I exchange a known amount of money today for an unknown amount of discounts in the future?

And if I am such a loyal, excellent customer, why wouldn’t the business to which I am loyal just give me the boy-we-think-you’re-special card?

If anyone can point to studies that show successful outcomes for pay-to-play discount programs, I would love to see them.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

Reminds me of an old Jay Leno joke. “This offer good for McDonald’s customers only. Now, there’s an exclusive bunch!”

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Folks…this ain’t about exclusivity…it’s about being identified with the legion. It’s about being an active part of the phenomenon. It’s Woodstock every Sunday in NASCAR Fan Land.

The only catch on the 40 million number is that memberships will probably only go “one to a household.” NASCAR is a family affair, so that brings the probable number of members down to about 15 – 20 million, I would guess. Put my money on first year participation at 3 million plus, if anyone is keeping track of the bets…

Zel Bianco
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Soon we will all be living in Red States and will all be NASCAR fans, so we might as well cough up the 40 bucks and get started. Seriously though, I think it’s a no-brainer for NASCAR due to the already high loyalty of their fans. I’m surprised they have not done this sooner and also surprised they are not charging more.

Leslie Surley
Guest
Leslie Surley
15 years 8 months ago

The NASCAR program is not “one member per household,” so the total 70 million could join. And it’s as much about bringing the races home to the fans as it is about special access at the tracks. Is this program really applicable for retailers? Your insights are golden.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What percentage of NASCAR fans do you believe will sign up for the organization’s loyalty club?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...