Study - from Outdoor Industry and Sport England - aims to find out

How do you attract and retain new outdoor enthusiasts?

How do you keep hold of enthusiasts taking part in outdoor physical activities? And how how do you attract new regular participants? 

A new extensive market research project is hoping to uncover the answers to those questions and more.

Thanks to a Sport England lottery award the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) is aiming to gain a better understanding of the outdoor physical activity market with the initial phase of the project set for completion by January 2015. 

The findings will be shared industry wide and will pull together existing research and ’emerging activity’ to provide in-depth market analysis, used to identify opportunities within the outdoor sector.

“This new partnership is a fantastic opportunity for our industry to benefit from some ground-breaking insights into the outdoor market," said OIA CEO Andrew Denton. "We’re delighted to be partnering with Sport England – we’re confident that the results of the project will help to make a significant impact on increasing regular outdoor sports and activity participation throughout the nation.”

Lisa O’Keefe, director of Insight at Sport England, added: “Our partnership with the OIA will give Sport England and the outdoor sector greater scope to make improvements in the levels of participation for regular outdoor sport and activity. By partnering with the OIA and bringing together partners, we can start to share insight, develop networks and explore partnerships in order to increase participation."

The OIA has worked with Sport England previously, including securing a Britain on Foot grant via the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), and most recently helping the National Trust and the Forestry Commission to gain project funding to increase outdoor activity on their grounds. Those research projects have revealed the potential of the outdoor market to increasing sports participation amongst a wide variety of consumer groups. Insights include:

  • 24 million adults regularly visit the outdoors (MENE Survey, 2012-2013). 885,000 of these adults regularly take part in ‘adventure sports’ in the outdoors (APS7).
  • A large market of cross-sport consumers who want to experience a range of outdoor sports
  • New target audiences – like explorer families, thrill seekers and silver surfers
  • Gateway sports like cycling and running that can incentivise participation in other sports
  • The health and sporting benefits of green and blue space
  • The potential of informal sport linked to social experience (often aided by technology)
  • Discovering sport (accidentally) in the outdoors environment can lead to a regular sporting habit.

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