Sport and Leisure Agency Leadership Research

Less time at bars and pubs, more marathons: A snapshot of our 2024 leisure lives

By Lucy Porter, Head of planning



The Drum Network article

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February 21, 2024 | 7 min read

Lucy Porter of PrettyGreen introduces five findings from original research about our evolving leisure lives.

A ferris wheel at a fair ground

Leisure is changing in 2024, but how? / Mae Mu via Unsplash

The perfect work/life balance can be elusive. And when we do have a moment of precious leisure time to ourselves, how do we determine what to prioritize? Are our choices changing in a cost-of-living crisis? And how does gender and age affect our spending?

PrettyGreen’s new report The Play Book offers fresh insights into our evolving leisure preferences and spending habits. Some of the findings were expected: 80% of UK adults said they had used a video-on-demand service, and 17% do so daily. But the report also revealed emerging trends around wellbeing, hospitality and live experiences that could provide brands the opportunity to better align their marketing strategies to consumer appetites.

1. Experience-driven leisure growth

With generation Z and millennials leading today’s consumer demand, expect an increase in spending on live experience-led activities in 2024. Live sports and festivals especially are poised for growth, with spending on live sports attendance expected to see a 10% increase in time and 15% increase in spending, and festivals a 9% increase in time and 7% increase in spending.

This experience economy boom indicates a fertile landscape for brand activation and partnerships at live events targeting younger audience groups.

Attendance at live music events last year trumped live sports across all ages (28% versus 21% respectively), indicating live music could be an activation opportunity perhaps overlooked in favor of sports marketing.

2. 2024: A social affair

For most leisure activities, the primary motivation to spend and attend is the desire to socialize with friends, family, or a partner.

While hospitality settings such as pubs, bars, and nightclubs are facing predicted declines in 2024 according to the research (average -9% time and -5% spending), the desire to socialize could help to address this. New occasion-led marketing and new product development in hospitality could increase footfall by focusing on a social proposition, beyond the usual hospitality moments across the week or expected cultural moments in the year.

3. Active leisure’s popularity surge

The research highlights a significant increase in expected participation in active events in 2024, such as marathons and 10km runs, with attendees participating an average of 3.6 times a year.

With a 31% increase in time and 17% increase in spending intentions for active events in 2024, this was the standout category that the research suggests will grow this year. This is led by millennial and gen Z males, emphasizing an increased interest in health and wellbeing among younger audiences that brands simply can’t ignore.

4. Gender matters

Men expect to increase the amount they spend across paid leisure categories, with a notable uplift versus women for live comedy, active events, and mobile gaming. Conversely, women are becoming more conservative with their leisure spending, driving reported spending decreases in leisure in 2024, especially in hospitality settings.

Why are we seeing this trend? Well, a report from the Fawcett Foundation in 2020 found that women living in couples with a male partner are almost twice as likely as men to take charge of household budgeting (37% versus 22%), plus numerous other financial responsibilities. This may, in part, help to explain why women are more careful with disposable leisure spending, but might also be interesting for brands’ audience targeting to consider who is the real gatekeeper of the family wallet.

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5. Don’t ignore the grey pound

While gen X and baby boomer leisure spending is not expected to increase significantly in 2024, the research shows that they are spending more, on average, each month than younger audiences.

Think tank The Resolution Foundation predicts the over-65s will be the biggest economic winners in 2024, compared with younger age groups. However, 40% of baby boomers said they hadn’t done any of the live experiences researched, suggesting 2024 could present an interesting opportunity for experience-led attractions, venues, and events to consider how they can appeal to older demographics, to steal a greater share of wallet from across the consumer spectrum.

Download the full Play Book report for more 2024 UK consumer leisure insights from PrettyGreen.

Sport and Leisure Agency Leadership Research

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