FEATURE10 December 2018

Best in-house team and impact of the year: Formula One

Awards Features Leisure & Arts Technology UK

At the 2018 Research Live Awards, Formula One was awarded Best In-House Team and Business Impact of the Year.

F1 mrs awards 2018 best in-house team_crop

This is quite some achievement given that Formula One (F1 ) didn’t have an insight team two years ago. But that changed following the sale of F1 to Liberty, and in 2017 the insight function at the car racing business was established.

Which means that the research and analytics team has absolutely gone from zero to 100. Five strong, it now supports multiple teams including commercial and digital across the business. With no legacy research, the department – led by global research director Matt Roberts, who was hired in 2017 – had the rare pleasure of being able to start with a blank canvas.

Its first work was centred on helping F1 increase its fans and commercial revenue – to feed into its marketing strategy – which it kicked off with a global tracking study to help understand the triggers and barriers of both fans and non-fans.

This has resulted in some specific projects. One was on improving the spectator experience, carrying out experiential research interviewing 20,000 race-goers. One of the direct consequences of this research was the launch of the F1 Grand Prix app to give race-goers better information and sign-posting on the circuit.

Another was using sensor technology to monitor footfall from which it adapted its merchandise among other things. Then in May it launched its online F1 Fan Voice Community which has seen more than 27,000 fans signing up for polls, surveys and the forum.

With numerous stakeholders and global locations, the team does regular drop-in sessions, newsletters and set up a portal so stakeholders could access data and reports.

Along the way it has worked with Flamingo to understand how best to grow by putting customers at the centre of the business. The central insight identified in this work was that the appeal of F1 was the story of humans using the most advance technology in the world and risking their lives to explore the limits of human possibility.

From this insight, the work centred on bringing fans closer to the thrill of F1. This strategy has seen race attendance increase 11% year on year, TV reach increase by 400,000 and a 54% increase in social media followers.

Matt Roberts, director of research at F1, said: "Before 2017, the old F1 owners didn't believe in data or research and with the exception of one TV data report, did not use or subscribe to any other data or research service. They didn't know what our fans looked like or their motivations, and never consulted them to inform decisions.

"Since forming the research team, we are now a central part of the decision-making process at F1. We work with stakeholders across motorsports, marketing, digital, sponsorship sales, promotion and events and TV rights to ensure that data and customer insight is kept at the heart of everything we do."

Pictured: The F1 insight team with MRS Awards 2018 host Shappi Khorsandi.

The full list of MRS Awards winners can be found here.