The Rising Profile of Cycling

The sport’s profile has had a boost with the success of British riders in the Tour de France and Olympics in recent years and marketers should recognise both the current popularity of the sport and how valuable a target those who follow it can be.

As the Tour de France reaches its climax and the Commonwealth Games gets into full swing, it is instructive to reflect on just how important a role cycling takes in the day to day lives of British adults. The sport’s profile has had a boost with the success of British riders in the Tour de France and Olympics in recent years and marketers should recognise both the current popularity of the sport and how valuable a target those who follow it can be.

Cycling fans tend to be older, but they have money to spare

Millions of adults take part in cycling and similar numbers have an interest in it generally According to Kantar Media’s TGI study, in terms of sports participation, only swimming and aerobics are more popular than cycling. 6.8 million adults (13%) in Britain get on their bikes at least occasionally. When it comes to interest in cycling (in terms of following it through media or watching it at a venue), inevitably it is not quite as popular as the traditional team sports like football, cricket and rugby. However, it nevertheless ranks amongst the top 10 sports by engagement, with 6.3 million adults interested (12%).

Cycling fans tend to be older, but they have money to spare

Interest in cycling is particularly predominant in the slightly older age groups. Those aged 55-64 are 29% more likely than the average adult to be interested, in contrast to those aged 15-24 who are 25% less likely than the average to be interested. This is also reflected in life stage, with cycling fans 27% more likely to be in TGI’s ‘Empty Nesters’ Lifestage group (aged 55+, married or living with partner but no son or daughter at home). They may tend towards the older end of the age spectrum, but they are not short on funds, being 75% more likely than the average adult to have a family income of £75,000 or more. This combined with the likelihood of them being older and thus less likely to be heavily burdened with a mortgage or paying for young children means this is a group not only with high income, but with a choice of where it is spent.

This a culturally rich and distinctive target for whom the legacy of London 2012 exerts a powerful pull

The 2012 Olympic legacy is a very real phenomenon amongst these cycling fans. They are 60% more likely than the average adult to assert that they are undertaking more exercise since the Olympics. Other key attitudes they are particularly likely to hold allude to their prosperity and include reading the financial pages of their newspaper (44% more likely), being interested in financial services advertising (35% more likely) and being prepared to pay more for good quality wine (30% more likely). Indeed, an appreciation of quality, financial engagement, care for the environment and being broad-minded summarise what makes this group attitudinally different to the rest of the population. These are the themes marketers will need to exploit to engage this group efficiently. The Olympic legacy for cycling fans extends far beyond taking more exercise. They are a third more likely than the average adult to feel that the 2012 Olympics had a positive effect on ordinary people’s lives and similarly more likely to believe that sponsoring the Olympics gives companies a better image. Indeed sponsorship of sport generally is something they are actively receptive to.

Cycling fans engage with a variety of media types, especially outdoor and newspapers

TGI reveals that cycling fans are particularly likely to be heavy consumers of both outdoor media and newspapers compared to the average adult (40% and 21% more likely respectively). The outdoor advertising they are particularly likely to see is that in washrooms/toilets, on supermarket trolleys and inside a bus. The quality press is what they are most likely to read, with I, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times amongst the most effective titles to reach them. The newspaper content that they are especially interested in is sport (80% more likely than the average adult and 36% read about this) and national news (29% more likely and 45% read about this).

Their actual online behaviour conforms to a large extent to what we know interests them and reveals some of the most efficient ways to reach them digitally

Using TGI Clickstream, which passively measures actual online activity, we can explore whether the interests of cycling fans are reflected in their internet behaviour and identify the most effective areas to reach them online. There is certainly greater likelihood of online engagement with financial/business services and sport amongst this group. They are 39% more likely than the average adult internet user to check stocks and shares online, 33% more likely to follow sports events and 28% more likely to use the internet for business and work purposes. These are the kinds of sites to consider to reach this group effectively online. If we look at the exact kinds of banking sites cycling fans access online, TGI Clickstream reveals they are 39% more likely to have visited rbsdigital.com in the last four weeks than the average internet user, 24% more likely to have visited rbs.co.uk and 23% more likely to have visited Sainsbury’s bank. In terms of time spent per month, rbsdigital.com comes out top with an average of 43 minutes spent on it per month and an average of five minutes per visit. Their interest in sport generally is also manifested online through their use of specific sports websites. For example, they are 26% more likely than the average internet user to have been on the www.espncricinfo.com site ‘in the last four weeks’ with an average of almost eight visits to the site over the same time period and spending almost eight minutes per visit.

Using Kantar Media’s Ad-Vantage service, it is possible to go a step further and identify the exact cookies to use to reach cycling fans online with maximum efficiency. Richard Keogh, Head of Kantar Media TGI UK, comments “Cycling fans represent a large, lucrative and distinct group, responsive to sponsorship and engaged with a variety of media - making them an attractive target for many marketers. However, not having quite the historical prominence of other sports, cycling fans have perhaps hitherto been overlooked by brands, whereas a closer examination would reveal their worth.



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