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As the UK currently basks in sunshine, and this year’s endurance sport summer race season gets fully up to speed, the UK triathlon industry is primed for growth. Latest figures from the sixth annual research study of Britain’s multisport community by the Triathlon Industry Association (TIA) points to an industry valued at a sizeable £472 million in 2017 – with 2018 shaping up as a promising year.

The study, which comprised an in-depth survey of 5,339 triathletes alongside multiple trade interviews, found that the UK’s growing population of up to 160,000 triathletes, +5% on 2016, are spending an average of £2,950 per year on the sport.

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 28% share of triathletes’ spending in 2017.

The importance of the sunshine should not be underestimated. UK triathletes travelled to 56 countries to race and/or train in 2017. As in previous years, Spain is a clear winner as the number one destination.

Mel Berry, TIA Chair, commented on the latest findings: “Of the 17% of survey respondents who travelled overseas to race in a triathlon in 2017, and the additional numbers heading overseas to race single sport events or to train, a notable 37% gave Spain as their destination country. This underlines the value of prolonged sunshine to the UK triathlon industry.”

She continued, “This sixth 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 commercial decisions. I would like to extend a big thank you to all of the 5,339 survey respondents and to the trade representatives who helped fine-tune the latest market report.”

Notable tri-related growth categories in 2017 include bikes (+10%); wetsuits (+4%); frames, wheels & accessories (+2%); and sports nutrition (+2%). Other areas, from apparel to shoes and event travel & accommodation, were more subdued by price competition and slower product replacement rates.

“The role of coaching and training was explored in detail in the latest TIA market study,” said Gary Roethenbaugh, Managing Director of MultiSport Research, which produced the research on behalf of TIA. “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 TIA research found that:

  • 16% of triathletes participated in a training camp or training holiday in 2017.
  • There is a growing importance of online training. Driven by platforms such as Zwift, among others, 14% of survey respondents have some form of online training subscription.
  • Strava edged ahead of Facebook as the preferred site for triathletes to regularly share their own sporting experiences (40% share for Strava vs 38% for Facebook).
  • In addition to swim/bike/run events, triathletes are highly active in single sport racing – with an average of 12 other endurance sport events, from run to swim to cycle, undertaken in 2017.
  • Including a variety of online retailers, and consumers purchasing direct from brands’ own websites, 69% of triathlon-related expenditure was online in 2017.
  • The male-female ratio of survey respondents stood at 69 : 31, with new starter triathletes more likely to be female – and female triathletes more likely to take part in a training camp.

The Triathlon Industry Association (TIA) comprises event organisers, equipment manufacturers, tour operators, retailers, distributors and media.

The full 124-page report was produced by independent firm Multisport Research. It is available free to all full members of TIA. Full membership costs £350 + VAT per year. All membership enquiries should be directed to David Townsend (info@triathlonindustryassociation.org).