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I've been hearing about NASCAR's female fans and all the clever cross-promotional ideas and licensed products for a while now, but this recent Sports Illustrated article pulled it all together for me....


The stats, as reported therein:
"According to a pair of recent surveys, of NASCAR's 75 million fans 40 percent are women. For every two new NASCAR fans, one of them is a woman. Women will spend $250 million on NASCAR-licensed products this year, and 68 percent of those women say they're only going to become bigger NASCAR fans. And according to Nielsen, women are more likely to flip over to a NASCAR race than any sport outside of football."
Because I'm not in the NASCAR fan base myself, willing to buy $200+ shoes with logos and plenty of pink apparel, I am all the more fascinated. What, pray tell, is NASCAR's key to such incredible success with women?
They didn't try.
The brand has not done backflips to find "women's" angles, they have just delivered on their 50-year promise (check out the history of the sport here): viewing excitement and a growing and passionate community of like-minded people, with celebrity drivers that don't stray too far from the fan base.
There's a particular profile of men who become avid racing fans, and they are at the center of the NASCAR market (of course). Their enthusiasm is infectious. Their closest male and female friends/loved ones start to wonder... "hmmm, I'd like some of that in my life - let me check this out."
Those people then start to watch it on television and maybe attend a race or two in-person. What they find is that NASCAR is beyond cars going around a track in the hot sun. It is a lifestyle with hundreds of thousands of people who love it, follow it, and enjoy talking about it and making it a central part of their lives.
Infectious enthusiasm is the name of this game.
Now, here come the pink t-shirts and diverse range of licensed products, and events, which perhaps don't attract new female fans, as much as keep the buzz going for existing fans. Any woman on the fringe of that action will be pulled into participation by the excitement of all their buddies who have "joined" the NASCAR brand and become part of the community.
The lesson: DON'T worry about marketing to women as some separate effort. Instead, build your brand with its passionate core and let the enthusiastic fan base sell the experience for you. When pink t-shirts and stiletto heels with logos develop "organically" - they are meant to be!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.