Guide: Scoring sports partnerships Find out more

In the past month, 15% of online consumers have bought sports clothing or equipment, but less than half of this group are regular gym-goers (47%). Now that streetwear, athleisure, and sportswear have become high fashion, sports brands that are treating all buyers the same are missing a trick.

There are plenty of customers waiting to be reached, but you can’t do so unless you understand the nuances of how they want to be reached, what they’ll respond to, and what they value. Who are these consumers? And what do they care about?

No two sportswear buyers are the same. And to prove this, we’ve created two audience profiles using GWI data that we’ll compare: outdoor enthusiasts and high-end fashionistas. 

  • Outdoor enthusiasts are sports buyers that are interested in outdoor activities like hiking and camping, and say they like to explore the world
  • High-end fashionistas are sports buyers that are interested in fashion and say they tend to buy the premium versions of products

Let’s take a look at how these two buyers differ and what sports brands can do to reach new audiences by segmenting their customers.

Here’s who they tend to be

According to our data, high-end fashionistas are more likely to be millennials and the gender balance is pretty equal, whereas outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to be male Gen Zs. 

Gen Zs and men are the least likely to say they research a product online before buying it, and they’re the most likely to say they take risks, which suggests they often act in the moment. But we can’t just break each group down by age or gender and be done with it. 

Based on this basic profile, we’d assume that outdoor enthusiasts are more prone to impulse buying and engage with brands more on social media, but that’s not the case. This is why having a 360-degree view of each target consumer group is so important, as, without it, key nuances could be missed.

Tip 1: Nail down some buyer personas

As HubSpot neatly puts it, “Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.” As we’re starting to see, you really can’t ace your marketing activity if you’re treating all your customers the same. You’ve got to get to know them – on a deep level. You’ll be surprised at how unique they are.

Here’s what they care about

Outdoor enthusiasts are interested in fitness and exercise, playing/watching sports, travel, and wildlife/nature. In contrast, high-end fashionistas are more interested in beauty/cosmetics, celebrity news/gossip, DIY/home improvements, and personal healthcare.

If you’re thinking about brand collaborations or influencer marketing partnerships, you’ve got to take into account the wider passions of your chosen buyer persona. For instance, an influencer marketing campaign with a celebrity is more likely to land with high-end fashionistas, and fall flat with outdoor enthusiasts.

So, how can you infiltrate both audiences? It’ll take a nuanced approach – and you’ve got to look at what motivates them as consumers. 

Outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to say that having a positive attitude, being financially secure, spending time with family, and learning new skills are important to them. Their goals in life tend to be more modest, and as we’re going to see, they focus more on the practicalities when it comes to brands/products. 

On the flip side, high-end fashionistas are most distinct for saying standing out in a crowd, contributing to their community, being successful, and feeling accepted by others are important to them. They care much more about their outward appearance, are more charitable, and are more likely to advocate a brand that enhances their online reputation/status. 

Tip 2: Don’t underestimate passion points

Passion points map out the entire character of your target audiences, focusing on what they’re – you guessed it – passionate about. Passion points are different from any other audience research metric because they don’t necessarily have anything to do with you or your brand. They provide a comprehensive view of who your consumers are (regardless of who you are). It’s a fantastic way to know your audience.

Their purchase behaviors are dramatically different 

This might surprise you, but outdoor enthusiasts actually buy more clothes in general than high-end fashionistas. They care more about having products available in their size/fit, accurate sizes, and an easy returns process. So if you want to win over outdoor enthusiasts, you’ve got to focus on stock availability and accuracy, which are particularly important to them. 

In contrast, when buying clothes, high-end fashionistas care relatively more about having recent/fashionable styles and – get this – attractive packaging, which means brands need to think about the entire look and feel of the parcels they send out, rather than just the contents inside of them. Trendiness and the overall shopping experience are key.

So how do they find you? 

Outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to visit a brand’s website, and they’re most likely to do their brand and product research on search engines, so getting in with SEO-friendly review sites will swing in your favor here.

On the flip side, high-end fashionistas are more likely to use branded apps, use QR codes provided by a brand, or provide new ideas for a product/design.

In fact, when it comes to product research, social networks are the go-to channel for high-end fashionistas – with video sites also much higher up the list. Getting them involved via hashtag challenges or on live streams is a good tactic, given that 76% describe themselves as creative.

Tip 3: Get personal with personalization

Audience profiling is a great way to develop personas, and personas are a great way to segment your messaging based on what each consumer group values. 

Whether it’s subject lines, dynamic website modules that change depending on which consumer group is browsing your site, or sharing relevant content with the right groups, you’re much more likely to score a direct hit when you get specific. Your campaigns have got to be mapped against who you’re trying to reach.

Here’s how they use social media 

Unsurprisingly, more outdoor enthusiasts prefer to spend their time in the real world (43% say this) compared to high-end fashionistas (37%). 

But here’s something that might surprise you: when it comes to portraying their lives online, outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to say they’d prefer to put on a persona or a different personality on social media than high-end fashionistas. 

They don’t feel the need to stand out as much on social media, and mainly use it to fill up spare time or to follow friends and family. 

High-end fashionistas, on the other hand, care more about their online reputation. They’re eager to see influencer marketing in this space, and likely to say they use social media to see content from their favorite brands – so you know where to reach them. 

Tip 4: Meet your audience in their hangout spots, not yours

Rather than fighting for your audience’s attention in your world, why not stop by theirs? Your different buyer personas are bound to hang out on different social platforms. Get to grips with how they shop and where they browse, then take it from there.

Here’s what they want from brands

First and moremost, high-end fashionistas want brands to be smart, whereas outdoor enthusiasts really care about brands being reliable. In terms of other qualities, innovation, authenticity, and what goes on behind closed doors are hugely important to outdoor enthusiasts. 

Surface-level initiatives aren’t going to cut it. For this consumer group, actions really speak louder than words. Eco-friendliness, for example, is key, but you’ve got to have serious plans behind serious statements if you want to get in with these buyers. There’s no room for greenwashing here.

Tip 5: Don’t draw the line at marketing

You can use your buyer personas to help guide your business strategy. If you’re keen to target more sustainable consumers, for example, you’re going to have to walk the walk. The same goes for promoting wellbeing – which sports brands are likely to do – your own employee perks have to match up.

The bottom line 

So there you have it. Two buyers, united over their love of sportswear, but worlds apart in almost every other category. If there’s ever been a more compelling case for audience profiling, we dare you to share it.

The ultimate tip: make sure you’ve got the right consumer data. All of these insights can be found in our platform – along with 200K+ profiling points. You’ll be able to figure out your audience like an expert and dive deep to analyze their interests, behaviors, and values down to the very last detail. Without the right audience data, you can’t reach new consumers.

Guide Scoring sports partnerships Download now

You’ve read our blog, now see our platform

Every business has questions about its audiences, GWI has answers. Powered by consistent, global research, our platform is an on-demand window into their world.