Report identifies Fit Consumer segment -- 50 million strong and wielding $2.2 trillion

Nearly 50 million adult Americans fall into the demographic profile of "Fit Consumers" -- a person who exercises three times a week and participates in at least one sport -- and collectively they wield a household income of $2.2 trillion, according to a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts. That figure is expected to swell to $3 trillion by 2011 -- a cumulative growth of 33.4 percent.
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Nearly 50 million adult Americans fall into the demographic profile of "Fit Consumers" -- a person who exercises three times a week and participates in at least one sport -- and collectively they wield a household income of $2.2 trillion, according to a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts. That figure is expected to swell to $3 trillion by 2011 -- a cumulative growth of 33.4 percent.

The report, "Fit Consumers in the U.S.: Tapping into the Active Lifestyles of Sports and Fitness Participants," focuses on building a composite demographic profile of a Fit Consumer, which represent 23 percent of the adult population.

Packaged Facts noted that the Fit Consumers demographic represents a unique and fast-growing segment of the American consumer economy. They are not only prime targets for services tied directly to their active lifestyles, such as health clubs, fitness equipment and nutritional supplements, they are also avid spenders on travel, cars, financial products and pampering.

"These consumers are serious about all aspects of their health, their environment, and the quality of the lives they lead," said Tatjana Meerman, the publisher of Packaged Facts. "They will go to great lengths to preserve what they see as the ideal lifestyle but are also very savvy about what they indulge in."

Using the Simmons National Consumer Survey as a primary resource, Packaged Facts defines Fit Consumers as the respondents who report that they exercise at least three times a week and participate in at least one sport "every chance they get." The definition of the Fit Consumer used in the report includes those who embrace both the concept of generic exercise and participation in specific sports, it said.

The report further divides Fit Consumers into the following two major segments: Extreme Fit Consumers and Wannabe Fit Consumers. Both satisfy the criteria of exercising at least three times a week and participating in at least one sport, but Extreme Fit Consumers are those who respond that they "agree a lot" with the statement "I exercise regularly," while Wannabe Fit Consumers do not "agree a lot" with the statement. Consequently, Wannabe Fit Consumers lack the subjectively strong attachment to exercise expressed by Extreme Fit Consumers.

Fit Consumer households are more affluent than other consumer households, according to the report, with 12 percent of their households having an income of $150,000 or more. This compares to only 6 percent of other consumer households. The average household income of Extremers is $96,913. In contrast, Wannabes have a household income of $81,806, and other consumers have an average household income of only $64,971.

For Fit Consumers as a whole, as well as those in the Extreme and Wannabe segments, fitness walking and weight training are the most popular sports activities, the report found. Fitness walking is the only sports activity with a majority of Fit Consumers. Most of the other popular sports engaged in by Fit Consumers also fall into the category of fitness activities: weight training, jogging/running, using cardio machines, aerobics and stationary bicycling.

The report also noted that the most popular exercise location for Fit Consumers is at home with about 60 percent of both men and women choosing to perform their fitness exercises in their own home. Extremers are more likely than Wannabes to exercise at a private club.

The types of equipment owned and purchased by Fit Consumers reflect their strong interest in being able to engage in fitness activities at home, Packaged Facts said. Fit Consumers are more likely to own every category of sporting goods tracked by Simmons NCS, but free weights/dumbbells (36.3 percent) and home gym equipment (28.1 percent) rank much higher in popularity among them than they do among other consumers. Almost 13 percent said they owned stationary bikes.

Additionally, Fit Consumers said they bought the following sporting goods in the last 12 months: home gym equipment, 5.6 percent; free weights/dumbbells, 4.9 percent; and treadmills, 2.5 percent.

Compared to other Fit Consumers, those engaged in fitness activities are more likely to consider their diet to be healthy. Plus, they are more likely to work at eating a well-balanced diet and make an effort to eat healthier food. Compared to other consumers, Fit Consumers are more aware of brands, rely on magazines to keep them informed and are more attached to the Internet.

Packaged Facts expects the Fit Consumer market to continue to grow at a rapid rate as a result of a variety of social and economic trends. One key factor in the growth of the market is the increasing interest of employers in lowering healthcare costs through wellness programs, which frequently include access to health clubs. Another example of a trend likely to contribute to an increase in the number of Fit Consumers is the application of technology to fitness regimens, like adding video games and TVs to exercise bikes and treadmills.

An increasing focus on fitness reflects a fundamental trend in American consumer society. As a result, Packaged Facts projects that Fit Consumer households will represent a growing proportion of American households, increasing from 22.5 percent of households in 2006 to 23.5 percent of all households in 2011.

Packaged Facts said its report is based on information collected directly from firms active in the fit consumer market as well as analysis of relevant information from industry and trade associations and publications. The primary research source is the Fall 2006 Simmons National Consumer Survey.

Packaged Facts (www.packagedfacts.com) publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer industries, including consumer goods and retailing, food and beverage and demographics. For those interested in buying the 234-page report, click here.

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