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New research shows women want fashion AND function in active wear

Australian women make a sharp distinction between function and style when purchasing active wear, according to first-of-its-kind consumer research conducted by Victoria University for the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA).

The research found women will pay more for functional active wear that provides comfort, is breathable, and hides sweat, while avoiding stylish active wear that only looks good.

The $140,000 study – aimed at forecasting the drivers and trends in Australia’s female active wear market over the next five years – uncovered the opinions of 72 active women, aged 16 to 35 years, in eight focus groups in metropolitan and regional Australia.

It found women are no longer content to go to male-dominated sports and exercise shops to purchase their active wear, and will instead, seek out retail experiences that cater to their expectations, both in-store and online.

Lead researcher Dr Clare Hanlon at VU’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) said the study showed women looking to purchase active wear currently receive surprisingly limited marketing attention from brands and retailers.

“They are seeking, but have trouble finding, connections to brands that are authentic and speak their language,” she said.

ASGA Executive Director Shannon Walker said the research is a warning for female active wear brands and retailers or any company thinking about moving into the category.

“Women are no longer content to purchase ‘cut-down’ versions of men’s active wear or fashionable items that masquerade as suitable for exercise,” he said.

The research is the first in a multi-stage project to provide valuable qualitative information for brands and retailers wanting an in-depth understanding of female active wear buyers.

The final report is due by the end of 2016.

Other principal investigators in the project are ISEAL’s Professor Hans Westerbeek and Associate Professor Ramon Spaaij.

The Australian Sporting Goods Association was formed in 1981 as the industry association representing a broad range of sporting goods and active lifestyle industry participants, including manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers.

 

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