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Following the pocketbook: New study examines motivations for being active

A new study conducted in partnership with SGMA and the Active Network shows that though more than 80 percent of those polled want to be active, most aren’t. One way to remedy this is to change the mindset people have that they have to exercise to one where they want to do it for fun.

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One of the great things about the annual participation studies that come out from the Sporting Goods Manufacturering Association is that they show the industry what sports and activities are trending for that year.

But one question that hasn’t been answered over the years, is the why specific activities gain popularity and why others seem to go out of style. So for the first time, SGMA teamed up with the Active Network to do a study that addresses the ‘why’ behind why people are or aren’t active and what sports interest them most.

The results of the inaugural “Journey of Sports Participation” was released Wednesday and found that in a time of increasingly sedentary lifestyles and ever-growing obesity rates, 81 percent of those in the Active study declared they want to be active. The problem among adults, however, is that they see activities as something to check of their to-do list versus something they do for fun.

The study had two panels of respondents, one from SGMA, and the other from the Active Lifestyle Panel, a consumer panel that is made of up more than 55,000 users.

Some of the key findings in the study include one that teens and youth (88 and 92 percent respectively) said the top motivating factor for choosing an activity was that it was fun.

Another goal of the study, said Kristin Carroll, vice president of corporate and consumer marketing, is to determine ways retailers and manufacturers can grow the market share rather than increasingly competing for business from the same segment of active people.

We have manufacturers fighting for market share among existing active participants,” Carroll explained to SNEWS. “The best and fastest way for a manufacturer to gain market share is to tap into the demand that there is with people who want to be active but aren’t actually active yet.”

One way to tap into that segment is to convince customers to put their money where their mouth is. They say they want to be active, then they could sign up for more than one activity at a time until they find something they truly enjoy doing.

The study found is that adults don’t spend as much money signing up for events like leagues or road races as they spend for their kids on the events, however they do spend more on apparel and footwear for themselves, and less on apparel and footwear on their kids. Carroll noted this could be because adults purchase items with good intentions, but other commitments derail their attempts to be active.

Plus, the study also found that this could be because there is a lack of social support and adults don’t know anybody else who is participating in the activity they want to start. This is where social media could play a large role, and already outdoor and fitness achievement apps are popping up left and right to connect people and their activities.

Another point of the study was that active families equal active children. If parents are participants in an activity, it is more likely their children will participate in activities themselves.

The last major point the study found was that adults aren’t committing their pocketbooks to getting active. Because of the mindset that exercise and activities are something they have to do, there’s less of a chance they’ll follow through on visits to the gym or other things that they don’t see as being fun.

So how do manufacturers and retailers use this information? Carroll said the best way is to use the information as a way to create campaigns that speak to the demographics you’re trying to reach.

Plus, organizing events that people see as fun could get them interested in pursuing them on their own time and spending money on doing them frequently.

To download the report for free click here.

“Ultimately our goal in doing the study is to create actionable data,” Carroll said. “We encourage people to sign up for activities we encourage activity organizers to make activities fun. We encourage manufacturers to look at how to make their messages tailored to the right type of audience.”

–Ana Trujillo