The new year and a renewed gym membership are almost synonymous for most health-conscious consumers. This certainly isn’t anything new, but research conducted by Rakuten Marketing in January has uncovered an interesting spending pattern. This trend might easily be missed by marketers assuming more frugal spending habits in the post-holiday blues.

The findings, taken from interviews with over 2,000 consumers from across the UK, show consumers are quite happily prepared to spend in the region of £141 per item of activewear, rising to £187 among Londoners specifically.

Nearly half of Brits say that their spending has increased on activewear in the last year. In a quarter of cases, consumers admitted spending had shot up by as much as 70% to 100%. The largest growth is in the youth market and the high-spending Londoner. Meanwhile, the lowest activewear spenders are London’s neighbours in the surrounding South of England, averaging at £127.

Hit the new year running

For as many as 47%, the greatest expense is attributed to spending on footwear. A fifth of all consumers are buying activewear to run: an activity that has grown in popularity thanks (at least partially) to apps like Strava and initiatives such as parkrun. Millennial audiences appear to have particularly itchy feet, with a quarter of those surveyed saying running is the most influential sport for activewear purchase decisions.

Running is closely followed by the activity that has more traditional associations with activewear: going to the gym. This leads 16% of consumers’ activewear purchase decisions, rising to 25% for 16-29s. Looking at which sports brands influence activewear purchases the most, it comes as no surprise that Nike holds the largest sway, with Adidas a close second. More unexpectedly, some of the largest names in sport have significant catching-up to do, including Under Armour and Reebok.

Not just the gym

Of course, people are no longer just wearing activewear at the gym. Although 75% of those surveyed wear activewear when exercising, 49% of those surveyed are wearing activewear at home, 29% when running errands and a rather surprising 13% at work. Almost a fifth of Londoners surveyed say they wore activewear to work last year.

Companies like lululemon athletica have cemented activewear as a fashion trend and the results of this survey reveal a huge market that brands should really be taking a close look at. Our research also showed that both friends and family now hold a huge influence on consumers when looking at who drives Brits’ activewear purchases today.

Getting the fit – first and foremost

Activewear is certainly not exempt from the rising power of influencers, who in this case are mostly sportspeople and social media stars. However, a growing factor in Brits’ purchasing decisions surrounding activewear is fit.

39% of consumers do the majority of their activewear shopping online and 35% of those surveyed say that the fit was a significantly important factor to consider when purchasing activewear. It’s important apparel retailers take the guesswork out of sizing and personalise the shopping experience. This gives shoppers the confidence to find, buy, and keep clothes that not only flatter their body shape, but also provide the right support and durability for their given hobbies.

The key takeaway for brand marketers is that while activewear might once have been seen as a passing trend, the reality is it’s being taken seriously by consumers and there’s enormous opportunity. Building campaigns that challenge incumbents in the market such as Nike and Adidas relies on addressing consumer priorities: factors such as fit, building a consistent online/offline experience, and winning brand advocacy among friends and family are vital ingredients to success.