How Changing Fitness Trends are Affecting the Sports Retail Industry

2017 revealed some really interesting fitness trends across the globe. The rallying cry for the year seemed to be “Strong is the new skinny”. For example, a recent study brought the following observations to light:

  • Popular exercises like Zumba, Pilates, and Boot Camps that were hugely popular just a few years ago are not popular enough today to be even considered as trends anymore!
  • Fitness space has been invaded by the ubiquitous Wearable Technology, which actually emerged as THE number 1 trend for 2017.
  • Yoga still remains popular, and is still a part of top 10.

Changing Fitness Trends in the UK

However, studies have also highlighted the vast difference in the way the world exercises. For example, studies in the past years have constantly shown that women in the UK exercise far less than their male counterparts. By a passive estimate, 2 million fewer women than men were involved in regular sport activity and exercise. The study also found some interesting reasons for this:

  • Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons for women in UK not exercising was body issues and fear of being judged!
  • Another major reason women constantly quoted for not exercising regularly was the fear of being criticised for spending time away from their children.

Compared to this situation, the numbers in the US have been far more promising. A nationwide survey showed that 70% more American women exercised regularly.

However, the situation in UK is now seeing a positive upturn. Because of the emergence of the groundbreaking This Girl Can campaign, which is pushing women to overcome their fear of judgement, an unprecedented 7.2 million women now play sport and engage in regular physical activity. According to the latest figures, 15.97 million people over the age of 16 are now playing sport weekly. Half of this number is contributed by women who are now actively involved in fitness regimes. As a result, the gender gap has come down to 1.55 million in just a year, since the campaign began.

These changing trends towards an active life directly contribute to changing purchase behaviors. According to studies:

  • 37% of women in UK women bought trainers, as compared to 33% who bought shoes with heels.
  • Half of women in the age range of 35-44 purchased trainers in the past year, compared to 30% who bought heels.

These are strong indicators of moving towards an active lifestyle, with trainers and not heels becoming a big part of a modern women’s wardrobe.

How Retailers can Make the Most of the Changing Trends

In a Location Analytics study conducted recently by Near, men and women in US, UK, and Australia show similar preferences for traditional sportswear brands, such as Nike and Adidas. However, in Singapore, Adidas is the preferred brand for men (60%), while Nike for women (54%.) This clearly indicates that Nike needs a better marketing strategy to attract more men in Singapore. Similarly, Adidas also needs to rework their product design and marketing strategy to increase the walk-ins by women.

Near’s study also found that Adidas sees 13% higher footfall from Affluent in the US, which is nearly two times higher than the number in UK (7%) and Singapore (5%), and 1.5 times higher compared to Affluent in Australia (9%).

Armed with insights like these, sports retailers can easily lead the industry by targeting the right audience at the right time. However, to arrive at these insights, retailers need committed and timely investment in Location-aware Data Platforms. These intelligent platforms not only provide retailers with deep consumer insights, but they can also help spot emerging trends early on, before their competition even begins to recognize the signs, giving them the golden opportunity to take quick and timely action. This action can range from developing new cutting-edge products to on-time market launches and context-appropriate pricing.

For example, by leveraging the Near platform, Virgin Active saw increase in consumer engagement and upturn in the club walk-ins in London. Virgin Active saw 70% uplift in walk-ins from the audience in the first phase of the campaign, which then increased to a whopping 82% in the second phase of the campaign.

In Conclusion

In the very near future, how retailers (and not just sports retailers!) reach their audience will be guided by what the data tells them. For example, the 18-25 years-old audience segment that goes to a sports ground or stadium on weekends and is seen at health food centers is definitely a target for promotion of offers. Similarly, people often seen near a gym and using health apps make great candidates to buy new sportswear. Data Platforms can transform the retail industry by driving decisions with real-time data.