Does F1 have a Gen Y problem?

In our latest podcast, the Rancast, we mentioned the waning TV audiences for Formula 1 and questioned some of the reasons that have been given as to why that might be happening.

Hear me when I say that I am in no way overplaying this but I do feel that a generational difference can be contributing to the cause if ever so slightly. The Millennial generation is big…larger than Generation X (but we have a cooler name) and they happen to be larger than the Baby Boomers from whence they were begat.

When you consider Gen Y and Boomers, perhaps some of these differences between them contribute to the waning desire for F1.

I’ve said this before but many Boomers were in love with the European sports car back in the day—heck, why do you think they sold so many MG’s, Triumphs and other , more exotic two-seat roadsters? The concept of freedom was never more tangibly realized than the ability to get in a car and “go somewhere”.

There was a certain “summer of love vibe” back in the day but camping at festivals and over the weekend of races seemed to have more gravity back then than it does now. Making an event out of the race is something F1 has recognized that circuit owners need to work on as evidenced in the recent Austrian Grand Prix.

That concept of freedom worked its way well into the 70’s and 80’s but by the 2,000’s, the Internet began to take serious shape and offered the mind an opportunity to “go somewhere”.

Gen Y’s are more likely to use mixed-mode transportation to get to their destination according to transportation “experts”. They ride public transport more often although I do think that is typically location specific.

They are taking longer to get their license and they like the down time while on public transport to tweet, post something on their wall or search the internet or even use an app. This constant connectivity keeps them at least somewhat up to date on the events around the world.

They aren’t having as many children either which has an impact on not only public transportation but car manufacturers as well as petroleum companies.

So of these, do any of them play a role in F1’s current slide? Perhaps the connectivity issue plays a role. If Gen Y would prefer to get their content across multi-device lifestyles, then a strong mobility strategy might be advised.

Has the car and car culture been left behind in Gen X and the Boomer generation? Do Gen Y’s care if they drive a Honda fit or a Ferrari 458? I think they do but I may be completely wrong. The press say that Gen Y’s don’t care about cars and aren’t a car culture. They say they have little interest in racing and sports that are perceived to socially irresponsible. I am no sociologist but I really have a hard time believing that if you put a Gen Y’er in a 458 Italia at Sonoma, they’d say…meh.

F1 is convinced that the current rush toward STEM education and all things technology is the element that they should be promoting to garner more interest amongst the Gen Y’s. That may be true but sitting on the couch watching Jacques Laffite in his Ligier was reason enough for me. I wasn’t completely engrossed by the technology as I was the racing but then I’m a different breed of cat.

The reason I ask is that we suggested that F1 do a little research into the reasons and perhaps we can start with the Generation they believe they are having trouble reaching. I say there are plenty of petrol-heads in Gen Y but maybe there are betters ways to appeal to them.

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