Massive Pulse report Mass Participation events

Participation rates at mass participation events move back to pre-COVID levels, says Pulse report

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Female participants have emerged as one of the driving forces behind the return to pre-pandemic levels of participation in mass participation events. The latest Mass Participation Pulse report – produced by events agency Massive – has shed light on the shift in participation patterns, with female participants leading the revival of the mass events market.

Following the drop in participation levels post-COVID, female participants were initially slower to return to events. Still, the latest Pulse survey found levels of female participation rebound in 2023, with female participants reporting a bigger increase in the number of events they took part in compared to men.

This positive momentum looks set to continue in 2024, with female participants expressing greater enthusiasm and intention to increase the number of events they enter than male participants.

The Mass Participation Pulse report asked more than 7,000 runners, walkers, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes to share their thoughts and opinions on the mass events market.

As well as female participants providing a boost to participation levels, 18–34-year-olds were also identified as being significantly more likely to report intending to increase the number of events they will take part in during 2024.

“After a disappointing 2022 for some event providers, it’s reassuring to see the number of events people have reported taking part in rising back to levels we’ve not seen since pre-COVID,” said John Tasker, partner of Massive.

Not surprisingly, the Pulse also reported that the cost-of-living crisis was having an inevitable effect on participants disposable income, with 58% of respondents reporting a fall in disposable income in 2023 and 48 per cent expecting levels of income to fall again this year.

Despite this the research found people prioritising spend on events above almost all other non-essential spending, with only spend on annual holidays being prioritised above spend on events.

“Even as pressures continue to grow on household incomes, we’re seeing spend on events and the experiences they offer being prioritised and protected. Clearly the impetus for event organisers and the industry is to make the case for events as experiences that deliver something special and beyond the everyday if we want to ensure participation levels continue to grow” said Tasker.