This article looks at the trends around yoga to see if it is a sport that should interest the marketer and if so, what does the sport represent and what characteristics would align with a brand. Choosing which sport to be associated with and what promotional product to choose should not be based on gut instinct but rather some firm data.
Participants in yoga
According to the web site finder.com some 1,600,000 people in the UK took part in an organised yoga classes – this was pre Covid-19 – and anecdotally this number may now be nearly double that. That significant rise comes not from some wild guess but because the search terms for yoga classes and products have nearly trebled on Google during the period of the pandemic.
If 1.6 million people, including all those attending a class whether in person or following an on-line session for which they have registered, sounds like a lot, we need to compare to other sports. According to Sports England ‘Active Lives’ survey, the most popular participation sport is some form of jogging or running which has 5.2 million participants followed by swimming at 4.2 million participants.
From a promotional and marketing point of view the attractiveness of yoga as a participation sport seems clear because it has a significant audience. Some other sports look more attractive however, because of the spectator audiences they attract, whether that be for the Olympics as in the case of running and swimming or the weekly football follower. From a promotional perspective the audience might be seen as a more important number than the participant numbers, but that would depend on the nature of the product being promoted.
Any marketer will understand that it is not just the total size of the market that is key, sometimes depending on the segmentation of interest the total numbers can hide some real gems of insight.
The British Medical Journal did a major study of the health benefits of yoga and being a scientific journal recorded all kinds of demographic data of those that take part in the sport. Some of the headlines of this demographic data makes interesting reading, with the participants being
- 87 % female
- 91% ethnically white
- 87% educated to A level or higher
- 9% employed or self-employed – with the next largest group being retired 14%
The marketer will see a highly defined, highly focussed market segment of female, well-educated and financially attractive potential customers. Other sports may be larger but we know of nothing better than such a focussed group of individuals. Clearly if this is not your target market then there is no interest, but if this is your target segment then the benefits of this focus are obvious.
Motivation and association
One of the most interesting thing that came from the British Medical journal work was the understanding behind what motivates someone to do yoga. Initially the vast majority (60% plus) said they took yoga for ‘well-being and fitness’ but those that had done yoga for a while regarded the most important motivation as being ‘spirituality, well ness and well-being’. This is not a group who do sport for the competition and the winning – but this profile says much about the group’s likely attraction to other products.
One other thing of note is the nature of fashion and trends. Clearly yoga is fashionable at the moment but it is also important to realise that clothing associated with yoga has stepped outside of simple sports use and has become a real fashion trend in of itself. Sports leisure wear is very much on trend.