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Do women buy active wear items for looks or functionality? Do they even exercise?

Posted February 8, 2018

Active wear is very fashionable nowadays. You see women wearing running shoes, leggings and tracksuits simply running errands in the city. And you can‘t help but wonder – do they really ever exercise? A new study from the Victoria University revealed that women do actually put these clothes on to work out on average three times per week.

Only a minority of active wear buyers do not exercise. Image credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird via Wikimedia(CC BY 2.0)

Active wear industry is huge. In some ways it does overlap fashion industry and offers a huge variety of clothing options for a variety of life situations. Active wear industry is worth more than $2 billion in Australia alone, but what are the consumers? Scientists surveyed just over 1000 female active wear consumers across Australia. They noticed that there are 7 segments to the buyers of active wear, ranging from women who are largely inactive and choose this type of clothing for sleeping or walking around the city, to individuals who love exercising and are actually driving the industry.

Interestingly, the most widespread group of ‘instant gratifiers’ reluctantly exercise for weight loss. They don’t even like exercising, but do it anyway. The most popular types of exercising are walking, gym workouts, swimming and jogging. ‘Instant gratifiers’ typically chose walking or some other low effort, small impact exercises. Scientists also found that on average females purchase about three active wear items a year, but 25-29-year-olds purchase most frequently. Women are not particularly interested in brands – they just want something that is functional, flatters their body and conveys the message of active lifestyle.

This essentially means that manufacturers of active wear should pay attention to their buyers. Clothing must be functional, but it also has to be stylish – since women don’t have loyalty for a particular brand they will always gravitate towards a product that looks nicer. Professor Claire Hanlon, one of the authors of the study, said: “There is a need to tailor realistic marketing and the benefits active wear provides to women when they participate in physical activity”.

Competition in this huge market is harsh. Buyers jump from one fashionable item onto another. Companies have to pay attention how their products are worn and what buyers like to maintain their position in the market. And for all of you who wondered – yes, they do exercise.


Source: Victoria University

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