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US triathlon market revenue hits the big time at US$2.8 billion

Triathletes enter the water at ITU World Triathlon San Diego

Global triathlon industry organization, Triathlon Business International (TBI), has today released the results of the most comprehensive market research study ever undertaken of the US triathlon community. The study, conducted by independent firm MultiSport Research, analyzed the commercial impact of triathlon in the United States and found that a large base of committed multisport athletes are ‘buying big’ at an estimated US$2.8 billion overall in 2014.

The research findings were tabulated from more than 7,000 survey responses in the first quarter of 2015. Respondents provided details in a variety of areas, from event participation and the triathlon lifestyle, to brand awareness and perspectives, and from expenditures on gear, to demographics.

In addition to the online survey, follow-up trade interviews and extensive desk research helped pinpoint the extent of money spent on the sport of triathlon in 2014.

“Market research surveys can, at times, be challenging as they lack the specific data one is often in search of, as well as the budgeting constraints they can carry,” commented Peter Hurley, CEO, American Bicycle Group, after reviewing the report.

“The TBI Market Study surpassed our expectations with the data provided and at a price we found below industry standard. What has excited me the most, however, is how extensive I found this research. This will help our company managers think more strategically moving into the next few years.”

A snapshot of the market research findings includes:

  • Events, travel and accommodations combined take the largest share of the total market estimate of US$2.8 billion.
  • When combined with bike-related spending, 58% of total revenue was derived from events, bikes and bike-related categories in 2014.
  • 49% of total triathlon expenditure in 2014 was made online; the remainder was in-store, via clubs and other sales channels.
  • 65% of active triathletes purchased a road or TT bike within the last 3 years.
  • 77% of triathletes are a member of a gym or health club.
  • The average triathlete age is 44; and California has the largest triathlete population.

The total revenue figure of US$2.8 billion is derived from an estimated 575,000 active racing triathletes in 2014. When incorporating the expenditure by infrequent triathletes – those who did not race a triathlon in 2014, but who still swim/bike/run – the market is lifted to well over US$3 billion.

“There are encouraging signs across the triathlon marketplace for all stakeholders,” said TBI President Jack Caress. “With a focus on athlete retention, alongside recruitment of new triathletes, there is good reason to see the triathlon market go onward and upward in the years ahead.

“Also, of particular importance, triathletes are highly engaged with the multisport lifestyle, which is attractive to brands within the industry, and to sponsors eager to get their messages out.”

TBI - MultiSport Research - US market trends survey logo

The 100-page TBI study brings together a full US triathlon market quantification alongside in-depth consumer insights. The study also segments the triathlete population and clearly shows the evolution of spending throughout a triathlete’s time in the sport.

‘Newbies’, or new triathletes, are more likely to purchase a bike and wetsuit in their formative year in triathlon and ‘Devotees’, or avid triathletes, are more likely to travel overseas to race and to participate in training camps.

Gary Roethenbaugh, Managing Director of MultiSport Research, the author of the report for TBI said, “Overall, triathlon has maintained a strong footing in the face of competition from obstacle racing and other mass participation events. Triathletes generally remain loyal to their sport – either as repeat participants, or returning back to the sport every other year, or every two years.”

A summary of the research findings will be presented at the 2015 TBI Global Triathlon Conference in Roth, Germany. The 100 page study is priced at US$1,750. Customized category extracts (e.g., swim, bike, run segments) from the study are also available for purchase. To order a copy of the full study, or for any questions, contact Lars Finanger (tel: +1 303 828 8034 / email: larsfinanger[at]gmail.com). Further information about the study can be found on the TBI website.

Triathlon Business International is dedicated to promoting the sport and business of triathlon. TBI notes that its members can participate in and access: conversations that will impact the development of triathlon around the world; initiatives regarding industry rules and standards; statistical data on sell-in and sell-through of events, products and services of related industries; and legal, legislative monitoring and action on behalf of all industry suppliers.




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