Global Participative Sport as Consumption: The New Rules of the Game

June 2014

With increasing sedentary lifestyles helping to drive rising global obesity rates, a growing number of consumers are becoming increasingly interested in participating in sport as both a way of keeping fit and healthy and a means of self-expression. This shift in behaviour, which spans the generational divide from baby boomer retirees to generation Y and even children, is helping to drive strong demand growth in markets as varied as sports apparel, energy drinks and consumer electronics.

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Sport as consumption

A growing number of consumers are devoting more time and money to participating in sport. Driven by increasingly urban and sedentary lifestyles in both developed and emerging markets. In some cases participation in sport is becoming a social identifier; e.g. “I am a tri-athlete.” 
This trend can be seen across the age spectrum, from the increasingly structured play of childhood, to the desire of ageing baby-boomers to remain active for as long as possible.

Running from obesity

Obesity is increasingly identified as a public health issue, receiving a huge amount of media coverage and public policy attention, helping to raise public awareness of the importance of exercise and sport.


Fitness is increasingly portrayed as an important aspect of attractiveness in mass media. As a result, it can be difficult for the average person not to feel vaguely inadequate when confronted with airbrushed images of “perfection.”

Arrested development to adulthood

The timing of the progression from childhood to adulthood has shifted, with a growing number of young people delay marriage and starting a family. Many Gen-Y consumers now have more time to devote to sporting activities.

Delaying the ageing process

For many middle aged and older consumers, delaying the ageing process is a major driver of participation in sport. Health and vanity are both important motivators in this regard.

Don’t be a girl-man

Among men, sedentary occupations can engender feelings of emasculation, which is helping to drive participation in sports, particularly endurance sports, adventure sports and combat sports.

I play, therefore I am

A growing number of middle class striver's are treating sport in a manner similar to their careers. For some, sport has become a way of differentiating themselves from the herd and being identified as being part of an elite.


Demand factors
Consumer behaviour
Commercial impact
Market opportunities
Summary 1 Global Participative Sport: Opportunities and Challenges


Growing awareness of obesity risks raises the perceived payoff from sport
Over a third globally now overweight Table 1 Obese Population (BMI 30kg/m2 or more), Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Chart 1 Mean BMI, Top 10 Countries 2013 Table 2 Overweight Population (BMI 25-30kg/m2), Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Encouraging exercise as an antidote to obesity Table 3 “I am very worried about my health due to my lifestyle” – Selected Countries 2011
The changing shape of role models
The audacity of huge Sow the seeds of inadequacy, reap body dysmorphia? Pot bellies no longer regarding as a sign of affluence in emerging markets
Female attitudes towards sport shifting
Femininity versus sportiness? Fit is the new thin Table 4 Global Participation in Adventure Sports over the Previous Five Years 2014
Shifts in Family Structure and Life Stages
Chart 2 Fertility Rates 2013 – Top 10 and Bottom 10 Countries Generation Y more leisure-oriented Chart 3 Participation in Surfing by Region over the Previous Five Years 2014
Increasingly active retirees
Retirement goes from years to decades Table 5 Healthy Female Life Expectancy at 60 Years – Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Table 6 Healthy Male Life Expectancy at 60 Years – Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Concerns about age-appropriate exercise speculative? “You do what you can until nature says you can’t”
Urbanisation and sedentarism have profound lifestyle impacts
Table 7 Urban Population – Top 30 Countries 2013 Among men, sedentarism may lead to feelings of emasculation “You are not your job”
The rise of experiential consumption
“Their hands are soft” Welcome to hell Table 8 Importance of Limited Daily Stress – Selected Countries 2011/2013
The decline of manual labour
Chart 4 US: Employment in Selected Sectors 2003-2013
The internet lets a thousand sporting flowers bloom
Monkey see, monkey do Table 9 Percentage of the Population Using the Internet – Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Table 10 Mobile Internet Subscriptions – Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 A star is born online Does the Olympic effect really exist?
Sport as signifier and status symbol
Differentiate yourself from the herd In search of virgin snow Table 11 Importance of Regular Exercise – Selected Countries 2011/2013
In search of a fountain of youth
Chart 5 Median Age of Population – Top 10 Countries 2008/2013/2018 Chart 6 Population by Marital Status – Germany 2008/2013/2018 Vigorous exercise can slow the ageing process, at least for a while Many holdouts remain Chart 7 Participating at a Gym or Sports Facility (hours per week) – Youth in Selected Countries 2011-2013


Euromonitor International Surveys
Extreme sports – in search of safe danger?
Climbing to success Chart 8 Participation in Selected Sporting Activities in the UK 2005/06-2012/13 Chart 9 Participation in Mountaineering/Bouldering by Region over the Previous Five Years 2014 Extreme doesn’t have to mean dangerous
Adventure sports – a lifestyle for some
Explosion in triathlon participation Chart 10 Participation in Triathlons in the UK 2009-2012 Table 12 Number of Triathlon Clubs in the US 2000-2012 Endurophilia and masochism A growing army of iron men (and women) Can you handle a tough mudder? Chart 11 Participation in Adventure Races over the Previous Five Years by Region 2014
Cycling Revival
Professional success burnishes cycling’s image in the UK Tax incentive plays key role in Ireland Table 13 Proportion of Households with a Bicycle – Top 20 Countries 2008/2013 Recession hits bike sales in Europe Table 14 EU27 Bicycle Sales 2007-2012 Chart 12 Participation in Mountain Biking over the Previous Five Years over the Previous Five Years by Region 2014
Gyms still popular, but competition within the sector is hotting up
Gyms particularly popular with Generation X in the US Participation rate rises above 18% in Australia Chart 13 Participation in Fitness Activities in Australia 2009/2010 In recession-hit Europe, no frills gyms take off Fitness for the time-poor “You see so many other people doing it that you don’t feel crazy.” Where does the workout end and the party begin?
Winter sports struggle against a difficult economic background
Table 15 Participation in Snow Sport in the UK 2005/06-2012/13 Americans spent US$1.8 billion on ski equipment and apparel in 2012/2013 Chart 14 Participation in Alpine/Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding by Region over the Previous Five Years 2014 Chart 15 Participation in Cross-Country Skiing by Region over the Previous Five Years 2014 No-frills airlines boost the popularity of mountain resorts in Eastern Europe Bourgeois Chinese look to impress the neighbours
Emerging market running boom
Chart 16 Participation in Marathons over the Previous Five Years by Region 2014 A second running boom in the US? Chart 17 Running Participation in the US 2012
Increased emphasis on structured play in childhood
CrossFit for children “I love this place and he will be attending many more classes the older he gets!” In search of future champions in Australia
Putting “Fun” into Unemployment
Chart 18 Participation in Open Water Swimming over the Previous Five Years by Region 2014
“Geek” and “hipster” sports – Sport for All?
Zombie as motivator “Charging into battle with 40 other players against a horde of monsters is exhilarating” “The Hunger Games” helps to revive archery in Sweden Pétanque draws the bright young things


Gyms seek specialised niches
Premium prices for “cult-like” specialised gyms
In search of peak performance with coaching and training
Poetry in motion Trainers are the new therapists
Sportswear on the catwalk
Chart 19 Global Value Sales of Sportswear 2008-2013 Chart 20 Sales of Sportswear by Region 2008/2013 Table 16 Global Sales of Sportswear by Category 2008/2013 Fitness chic – sportswear as daywear Sneaker culture spreads Scarcity as marketing strategy
Middle aged men splash out on sports equipment
Pushing your wallet through the pain barrier Triathletes represent an affluent market In snow sports, retailers fight back against showrooming Chart 21 Global Value Sales of Sunglasses 2008-2013 Chart 22 Purchase of Specialised Equipment or Apparel 2014
Emerging markets drive growth in sports and energy drinks
“Increasingly regarded as essential” Chart 23 Global Off-trade Volume Sales of Sports Drinks 2008-2013 Table 17 Sports Drinks – Top 20 Markets 2008/2013 Chart 24 Global Off-trade Volume Sales of Energy Drinks 2008-2013 Cachet from extreme-sports sponsorship gives Red Bull wings Table 18 Energy Drinks – Top 20 Markets 2008/2013
Vitamin and dietary supplements – popular, but sometimes controversial
Chart 25 Global Value Sales of Vitamin and Dietary Supplements 2008-2013 Table 19 Vitamin and Dietary Supplements – Top 20 Markets 2008/2013 Table 20 Taking Dietary/Nutritional Supplements, Selected Countries 2011/2013 Adulteration and mislabelling commonplace? Supplements or designer drugs? Performance-enhancing drugs percolate down into the amateur ranks Steroid abuse grows among bodybuilders
Sports nutrition goes mainstream
Chart 26 Global Sales of Sports Nutrition 2008-2013 Chart 27 Global Sales of Protein Products in Sports Nutrition 2013 Protein products increasingly mainstream “It’s a good, easy source of protein” Manufacturers seek to convince female consumers that protein doesn’t equal bulk ESFA cracks down on marketing claims Chart 28 Sales of Sports Nutrition, Selected Countries 2008/2013


Luxury brands eye sportswear market
Chanel melds sportswear with couture Woollen cycling jerseys make a comeback Rising brand Under Armour covers its bases Fast Fashion Fitness
Tourists get active
Hard-core events seek to outdo one another In the US, two thirds of runners plan to travel overnight to an event
In the search of the food of champions
“Superfood” label a strong selling point Chart 29 Global Sales of Health and Wellness Food and Beverages by Type 2008/2013 Table 21 Sales of Health and Wellness Food and Beverages – Top 20 Markets 2008/2013 Vegetarian, vegan and Paleo diets increasingly popular among athletes
Digging deep to boost performance
Paying top dollar for “halo” bikes Shaving off the seconds
Gadgets facilitate the evolution of the “quantified self”
Introducing elements of social networking into exercise Leading brand withdraws new product due to skin issue “Sensors will be everywhere” Motion control gets video gamers moving Chart 30 Global Sales of Video Games Hardware by Type 2007-2012 GoPro revolutionises the camcorder market Chart 31 Global Sales of HD Camcorders 2007-2012
On the cusp of an app revolution
Samsung seeks to make fitness its USP Table 22 Current and Forecast Volume Sales of Smartphones 2007-2017 Table 23 Volume Sales of Smartphones Top 20 Countries 2012 Smartphone as coaching aid “Gamification” aids motivation
Active wear for the sporty pet


An urban future bodes well for sports participation
Table 24 Urban vs Rural Population – Selected Countries 2013/2030 Robots to take the strain?
Obesity problem spreading beyond developed economies
Chart 32 Mean BMI – Selected Western European Countries 2013/2020 Obesity a growing concern in the Middle East But many locals remain resolutely sedentary Chart 33 Mean BMI – Selected Middle Eastern Countries 2008/2013 Urban China wakes up to the importance of exercise? Table 25 China: Obese and Overweight Population 2008-2013
Increased segmentation in gym market?
High-end, boutique fitness set for further growth Chart 34 Gini Index – Selected Countries 2008/2013 Westernisation deepens in emerging markets No-frills gyms to bring fitness to the emerging market masses?
Diet is more important than exercise?
“We’re getting fat because we eat too much, not because we’re sedentary” Chart 35 Global Sales of Health and Wellness Food and Beverages 2013-2018 Table 26 Global Sales of Vitamins and Dietary Supplements 2013-2018
The real tech revolution is yet to come
Wearable tech to revolutionise exercise? Chart 36 Global Smartphone Sales by Region 2012/2017
Too much of a good thing?
“People can be simultaneously very active and very sedentary” Marathon couch potatoes Enough already! Will vigorous exercise lose its cache? A threshold beyond which exercise may have undesirable effects
Epigenetics posits potential generational benefits for exercisers
You can change who you are
A playful reaction to hypercompetitivity?
Just ride! Barefoot running and the joy of simplicity The emerging science of happiness


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