Preparing for the Future - Let's understand future behaviours. Leisure-Net Data insight

Posted: Tue, 26 May 2020 17:00

Preparing for the Future - Let's understand future behaviours. Leisure-Net Data insight

Whilst many across the sector are planning for a return to 'Business as Usual' there is increasing evidence that physical activity behaviors have been changing during #lockdown and all providers will do well to heed the warnings.

Thanks to the team at Leisure-net a new insight report has given us a flavour of the challenges ahead. If this report,launched today, is read alongside the Sport England tracker a pattern starts to emerge. There is however, one health warning with these findings and predicting long term change. Behavioural scientists remind us here at the Think Tank that long term more people will return to their habits than report here in the 'moment'.

This new data is largely from the 'leisure' sector. So this is useful to see alongside the wider Sport England work. But this sector remains a crucial part of the eco-system and is at severe risk at the moment.

The Big Lessons from this are:

Most people use the gym and group exercise with about a 5th swimming. Interestingly less than 2% of respondents cited 'sports' like football or squash. This suggests either low take up or more likely that leisure providers don't know much about the individuals using their centres through sports bookings. Clearly more work needed here for leisure providers and sports to work more closely together.

We can see levels of activity have reduced. With 52% staring they have been less active during lockdown. And only 22% saying they have been more active. This is why data and insight is important. My anecdotal evidence suggest I and most of my friends would be in the 'more active 22%! Clearly it is worrying if less are active as negative behaviours can turn into habits too. When it comes to reopening 88% say they will use their clubs the same or more. Whilst an overall encouraging figure I am sure the sector will be equally worried by the missing 12%. Again anecdotal but I am in the 4% who will probably give up my membership and workout from home. I find the gym a soulless place.

The main reason people give for using it less is because they will be doing outdoor independent activity. This is backed up by bike sales and growth in other similar data at Sport England. Again understanding behaviour change, we will have to estimate how much of this is down to the good weather and amount of time available during lockdown. In 18 months time with everybody back at work in the Winter will outdoor activity feel as attractive?

Other insights back up the trends. Digital offering will be important (but not for a significant minority of 32%), and healthily 40% say they are prepared to find more time for being active. The bad news is that 80% of them are not prepared to pay any more for it! Equally interesting - customers feel slightly less comfortable about returning to the centre/club compared to other public spaces. I understand this. I have felt uneasy at the push to open too quickly from some across the sector.

So what do we do? Well this backs up the earlier post and blog about my Sankey Chart. We need to expect significant movement around the sector (4% amounts to 400,000 people giving up their gym...) and we all need to work hard to keep them inside the wider sport and physical activity family by working much more closely together. If we get it right we just might be able to build back up the levels of activity across society. We know the dangers if we don't on the health of the nation.

For FREE summary report register here https://leisure-net.org/summary-report-interest/

Tags: Lesiure-net, Sport England, Sports Think Tank, sport policy