Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

SFIA Products and Services

SGMA Supports Converting 'Tryers' Into 'Buyers'

Date: 6/17/09

JUPITER, FLORIDA – June 17, 2009 – Every year, new people take up a new sport or activity. They come aboard with great intentions and great expectations, but often something happens along the way which negatively impacts their participation. People lose interest or something changes in their life and they don’t stay with it. For sporting goods manufacturers, this is an opportunity lost because, for one reason or another, the chance to convert someone from a ‘tryer’ to a ‘buyer’ is gone.

SGMA’s Sports & Fitness Participation Study (2009 edition) provides some great insight into this phenomenon. By looking at the percentage of casual participants in a specific sport versus the ‘core’ and ‘regular’ participants, SGMA Research can draw some assumptions about the people that just take up a specific sport or just participate on an ‘infrequent’ basis. 

Below are a few random sports. This type of analysis can be done for any of the 117 sports included in the survey.
Activity Casual Participation Regular Participation
Walking on Treadmill 1.80%


Running 5.40% 2.30%
Baseball 8.00% -12.90%
Basketball 7.90% -6.60%
Paintball -8.30% 6.80%
Slow Pitch Softball 15.10% -0.08%
Biking (Paved Road) 2.10% -2.50%
Camping in RV 1.00% 14.60%
Jet Ski 4.40% -14.80%

If you look more closely at some of the specific sports, you can draw some interesting conclusions. As an extreme example, many more people went jet skiing last year for the first time or maybe drove a jet ski while on their annual vacation. However, when you look at ‘regular’ jet ski users, the level of participation drops considerably. Consequently, one of the conclusions that you can draw is that you can get people to try a jet ski, but it is considerably more challenging to keep them involved or to get them to purchase one.

On the other side of this discussion, let’s look at paintball. ‘Casual’ paintball participation is down 8.3% (2008 vs. 2007). On the opposite side, ‘regular’ participation is up 6.8%. The conclusion that you can draw is once you can get people to try paintball, you have a reasonable chance of turning them into ‘regular’ paintball enthusiasts. Paintball is good at converting ‘tryers’ into ‘buyers.’
Expanding sports participation is always a challenge. Many focus on bringing new people in for a ‘try.’ Others want to grow the sport by getting those that already participate to play more. With the data described above, there is now a new group to focus on when you want to help your sport grow, i.e. converting your ‘casual’ or ‘new’ participants into ‘regular’ ones. If successful, you will be able to convert your ‘tryers’ into ‘buyers.’
The annual Sports & Fitness Participation Study is conducted using a sample of 40,000+ Americans. The study collects detailed demographic and lifestyle data on participants in 117 sports and related activities. If you would like to see a more detailed report for your specific sport, call Neil Schwartz at SGMA Research at 561.427.0647 or neil.schwartz@sportsmarketingsurveys.com.
SGMA Research is the exclusive provider of research and analysis for SGMA. Current studies include:
  • Annual Sports & Fitness Participation Study
  • Individual Sport Reports
  • State of the Industry Report
  • Industry Shipments Report
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership, SGMA Research, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com

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