Increased female participation helps to drive growth for UK triathlon industry
Updated: Mar 25
As the UK gets set for another endurance sport summer race season, the UK triathlon industry is primed for growth. Latest figures from the seventh annual research study of Britain’s multisport community by the Triathlon Industry Association (TIA) points to an industry valued at a sizeable £475 million in 2018.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games looming, 2019 is shaping up to be a promising year for triathlon. This is particularly as more and more women are embracing the sport, comprising 32% of the triathlon community in 2018 compared to just 26% as recently as 2013.
TIA’s research indicates that female triathletes are more likely to fundraise for charity. Interestingly, women are also more likely to participate in a training camp or overseas training holiday than their male counterparts.
TIA Chair, Jane Hansom, commented on the latest findings, “Whether it is coaching and training, membership of national federations, local clubs or the local gym, female triathletes are making their presence felt. This is so encouraging to see, and we look forward to seeing more diversity going forwards.”
She continued, “This seventh annual TIA study of UK multisport athletes’ participation and spend is hugely important. It provides TIA member companies with a detailed understanding of our community, and the trends affecting them. This gives us the confidence to make informed business decisions. I would like to extend a big thank you to all the survey respondents who took part. Their input was invaluable and helped to generate the latest market report.”
Encompassing a five-month research process, the TIA market report comprised an in-depth survey of 2,767 triathletes alongside analysis of event participation and trade interviews. The latest TIA research found that:
The UK’s growing population of up to 165,000 triathletes, +3% on 2017, are spending an average of £2,880 per year on the sport.
Overall, 19% of triathletes participated in a training camp or training holiday in 2018.
There is a growing importance of online training. Driven by platforms such as Zwift, among others, 18% of survey respondents have some form of online training subscription.
Triathletes are also highly active in single sport racing – with an average of 13 other endurance sport events undertaken in 2018. These range from run to swim to cycle; and now include a growing rate of participation in indoor, virtual cycle racing.
Including a variety of online retailers, and consumers purchasing direct from brands’ own websites, 70% of triathlon-related expenditure was online in 2018.
Strava is now more used than Facebook and Instagram for engagement around athlete activities – e.g., posting and sharing own activities, and liking and commenting on the activities of friends & training partners.
Gary Roethenbaugh, Director at MultiSport Research, who undertook the annual market study on behalf of TIA, added “The UK triathlon marketplace is certainly witnessing structural changes. Heightened rates of female participation in the sport are really encouraging. In tandem with this, we have seen indoor bike racing via Zwift capture the imagination of the UK’s triathletes.
"Endurance sport overall remains a hotbed of innovation – which makes it an exciting time for the industry.”
In addition to bike purchases – events, travel & accommodation are key areas, closely followed by coaching, training & camps. The event- and training-related categories combined claim a significant 29% share of triathletes’ spending in 2018.
Athletes may increasingly opt for training holidays, which are undertaken by groups of like-minded friends, as well as more formalised training camps. Of particular interest to industry stakeholders is the group of athletes who pay for some form of coaching. These athletes will typically spend more frequently, and at a higher price point, on multisport gear.
The full 100+ page report was produced by independent firm MultiSport Research. It is available free to all full members of TIA. Focusing on market insights and networking opportunities, the Triathlon Industry Association (TIA) membership comprises event organisers, equipment manufacturers, tour operators, retailers, distributors and media.
Full membership of TIA costs £350 + VAT per year. All membership enquiries should be directed to TIA (firstname.lastname@example.org).