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Sports Participation - Canada - July 2015

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Published Date : Jul 2015

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Canadians are active as demonstrated by the two thirds of the population who play sports weekly, driven by participation in individual sports or fitness activities. Motivating participation is a strong belief in the benefits that extend beyond the improvement of physical health, including mental and emotional gains as well as the development of life skills for children. Challenges to increase engagement in sports vary by demographics; lack of time, motivation and confidence prove to be the main barriers. Although there is interest in exercise enhancing tools (such as mobile apps or wearables), Canadians have been slow to adopt their use.


What you need to know

Executive Summary

The issues
Canadians are highly active though demographics play a role in sports participation
Figure 1: Participation in any sports, May 2015
Canadian men and women play sports for different reasons
Figure 2: Reasons for participating in sports (select statements), by gender, May 2015
At any age, personal insecurities are hindering women
Figure 3: Selected attitudes towards sports participation (any agree), by gender, May 2015
Affluence plays a role in sports participation
Figure 4: Sports participation (at least weekly), by household income, May 2015
Canadians have been slow to adopt exercise tools, though do show interest
Figure 5: Usage and interest in exercise tools, May 2015
The opportunities
Motivating Canadians by communicating desired benefits that go beyond the obvious – particularly when targeting parents
Figure 6: Selected attitudes towards sports participation, May 2015
Bridging the gender gap with technology
Figure 7: Usage and interest in exercise tools, May 2015
Creating virtual communities to motivate Millennials
Consider lower-cost offerings
What it means

The Market – What You Need to Know

An aging population will impact sports participation
Half the population is overweight or obese
Immigration is driving growth of the Canadian population
Economy shifts are impacting Canadian spending habits

Market Factors

Canada’s population is aging and will continue to do so in the coming years
Figure 8: Population aged 65 years and over in Canada, historical and projected (% of total), 1971-2061
Over half of Canadians are overweight or obese
Figure 9: Body mass index, self-reported rate of being overweight or obese among Canadian adults, 2009-13
Catering to an ethnically diverse audience
Recent economic activities have negatively impacted consumer confidence
Figure 10: Household disposable incomes and savings in Canada, by quarter, Q4 2008-Q4 2014
Canadians are facing record high levels of household debt

Canadian Influencers on Sports Participation – What You Need to Know

The Canadian government sets the standard
Sports programs and organizations promoting active living get support
Campaign efforts are targeting ‘real’ people
Mobile apps are shaping sports participation

Who’s Guiding Sports Participation?

The Canadian government sets guidelines to get Canadians moving
Canada’s Physical Activity Guide
Provincial efforts are also in place
Mobile apps and technology are also shaping fitness participation

Who’s Funding Sports Participation?

Government of Canada’s Sport Support Program (SSP)
Canadian Tire Jumpstart
RBC Learn to Play Project

Who’s Encouraging Sports Participation?

The Government of Canada puts forth healthy lifestyle initiatives:
National Health and Fitness Day – June 6, 2015
Healthy Me Week 2015 – June 1-7, 2015
Getting creative by combining fitness with other leisure activities
Scene Loyalty Program: A Partnership between Sport Chek, Scotiabank and Cineplex
Advertising campaigns positioning sporting activities for ‘real’ people
Goodlife Fitness: Real Heroes
Sport Chek: All Sweat is Equal in Sport
Leveraging social media to get Canadians moving
Tennis Canada
Partnerships between corporations and mobile apps in the creation of virtual sporting clubs and events
Nike+ Run Club
Rapha Women’s 100, a partnership between Strava and Rapha

The Consumer – What You Need to Know

Canadians are active sports participants
Men and women are physically active for different reasons
Canadians see benefits aplenty for participating in sports
Barriers go deeper than time and motivation
Physical activity and healthy eating go hand in hand
Canadians are interested in fitness tools/apps, though adoption is low

Who is Playing Sports in Canada?

Canadians are active in sports
Figure 11: Participation in any sports, May 2015
Canada is a nation of runners and walkers
Individual sports are most popular
Seasonality affects outdoor and team sports
Racquet sports see the lowest participation
Figure 12: Participation in individual and team/ competitive sports, May 2015
Men play more and like a wider variety of sports, women play less though are more loyal
Figure 13: Repertoire of sports participation, May 2015
Limited time and energy affects participation among parents
Figure 14: Sports participation (at least weekly), by parental status, May 2015
Affluence is a factor in sports participation
Figure 15: Weekly sports participation, by household income, May 2015
Three out of four British Columbians play sports weekly

Reasons for Playing Sports

For men, playing sports is social and fun
For women, sports participation is more goal-oriented
Figure 16: Reasons for participating in sports (select statements), by gender, May 2015
Older women more focussed on weight loss, increasing muscle tone and prevention
Younger women are driven by appearance
Appearance improvement drives those who identify as LGBT

Perceived Benefits of Playing Sports

Canadians feel being active provides benefits beyond physical health
Figure 17: Selected attitudes towards sports participation, May 2015
Fitness/sporting activities help manage mental and emotional health
Life skills can be developed, particularly for children who play sports

Barriers to Playing Sports

Time and motivation are the main barriers
Figure 18: Barriers to participating in sports, May 2015
Time is the major barrier for parents
Women need encouragement
Millennials need company
Health problems are a barrier for older men and women
Cost is a factor for lower income households

Attitudes towards Sports Participation and Food

Balancing physical activity with healthy eating go hand in hand for Canadians
Figure 19: Selected attitudes towards sports participation, May 2015
Age sways perception of the balance between food and physical activity
Though complimentary in importance, younger Canadians give sway towards food
Older Canadians strive to balance food and activity

Usage and Interest in Exercise Tools

Adoption of fitness tools/apps is low, though there is some interest
Figure 20: Usage and interest in exercise tools, May 2015
Tools that allow for home workouts appeal to women
Bringing the offline world online for Millennials
Figure 21: Usage and interest in exercise tools, May 2015
Small group or personal coaching and mobile apps are of interest to men

Chinese Canadians and Sports Participation

Though highly active, parenting responsibilities and a more utilitarian attitude impact participation
Figure 22: Participation in individual and team/competitive sports, Chinese Canadians versus overall population, May 2015
Chinese Canadians are playing more team and racquet sports
Parenting responsibilities are impacting participation
Chinese Canadians hold a more utilitarian attitude towards fitness/sports participation

Target Groups

Four target groups
Figure 23: Target groups for sports participation, May 2015
Interested but Intimidated (34%)
The Occasional Player (25%)
Enthusiasts (23%)
The Older Walker (18%)

Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

Data sources
Consumer survey data
Consumer qualitative research
Abbreviations and terms

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