Triathlon industry is on the rise

Between Alistair Brownlee’s gold medal-winning exploits in Hyde Park and on Copacabana Beach, the UK triathlon industry grew by 57 per cent to arrive at an industry worth £445 million in 2016, according to the fifth annual research study of Britain’s multisport community by the Triathlon Industry Association (TIA).
The study, which comprised an in-depth quantitative survey of 5,529 triathletes and multiple trade interviews, found that the UK’s growing population of 150,000 triathletes, up seven per cent on 2015, are now spending an average of £2,970 per year on the sport.
Since London 2012, the areas driving growth included wetsuits (up 137 per cent), sports nutrition (up 82 per cent) and event entries, travel and accommodation (up 67 per cent).
Wetsuit sales, benefitting from the growth in the popularity of open water swimming alongside triathlon, increased 13 per cent last year, with 72 per cent of those surveyed having bought a new wetsuit within the past three years.
The growing adoption of sports nutrition, up 15 per cent year on year, as a training and race aid was evidenced by 75 per cent of respondents now using nutrition products at least once per week.
The economic uncertainty introduced by June’s Brexit vote was unable to stop the industry growing by 4.4 per cent overall in 2016. Whilst the ‘big ticket’ purchasing of bikes did suffer, down by seven per cent, triathletes seemed to console themselves by travelling overseas to race, with 24 per cent racing outside the UK last year.
Despite triathlon no longer being the new kid on the block, its grassroots still look in good shape with 37 per cent of those questioned having started their first race in the last three years. Running is still the primary source for new starters, with 56 per cent of new triathletes having previously been runners.
New starters are also the primary drivers of the sport’s fundraising efforts. They are almost twice as likely than the average eight per cent of triathletes, who raise money for charity when they race. But when triathletes fundraise they raise hard, with an average haul of £700 per person for good causes.
Reinforcing last year’s social media results, Strava (52 per cent) remains the second favourite social media channel of triathletes, behind Facebook (82 per cent), but last year Strava extended its lead on third placed Twitter (39 per cent).
Mel Berry, TIA Chair, said: “For a niche, yet constantly evolving, sport like ours, this annual study is hugely important; it provides us with a detailed understanding of our community, and the trends affecting them, which gives us the vital confidence to make informed decisions, both individually and collectively. I would like to extend a big thank you to all of the 5,529 survey respondents and to the trade representatives who helped fine-tune the report.”
The Triathlon Industry Association (TIA) comprises event organisers, equipment manufacturers, tour operators, retailers, distributors and media.
The full 126-page report was produced by independent firm Multisport Research. It is available free to all full members of TIA. Membership costs £450 + VAT per year. All membership enquiries should be directed to Paul Shanley (

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