October 20 - Research by communications agency Threepipe has claimed that London 2012 has so far inspired 8 per cent of people to take up a new sport, with some industry experts indicating that governing bodies need a step-change in their approach to marketing in order to secure their funding and deliver on the promise to "inspire a generation".
The survey of 2,000 adults was carried out alongside a seminar recently hosted by Threepipe, looking at the sporting legacy of London 2012 and the challenges faced by governing bodies.
The greatest barrier to participation in sport was time, with 47 per cent saying that they struggled to fit sport into their busy lives.
This supports the views of speakers at Threepipe's seminar, who agreed that sports need to adopt a more flexible, marketing-led approach in order to drive participation.
"Sport in this country has tended to rely on supply side economics: build it and they will come," Martin Thomas, board director of Sport England, said.
"Over the last few years we have started to see a change of culture where some governing bodies have started bringing in smart marketers, recognising that it is a classic marketing challenge: how can I understand what my customer needs and how do I deliver it against that?
Marzena Bogdanowicz, board director of Volleyball England, added: "Volleyball England created Go Spike, where you just rock up and play.
"Research showed us that many people just want to be able to play a game and then walk away with no ties.
"Some people may not want to belong to a volleyball club, but do want to go and play every so often, and it is exactly that model that sports have got to look at."
Bogdanowicz went on to explain that sports should be looking to the marketing industry and its expertise in engaging consumers to achieve their goals.
"The 2012 legacy in terms of facilities is fantastic – for example, we now have 35 permanent, in-land beach volleyball courts," she said.
"However, until now there has not been funding focused on marketing or promotion, but that is what the governing bodies need more than anything to help them understand the consumer, develop their strategy and communicate with the wider public."
Thomas concluded: "There is increasing pressure on the governing bodies of sport to be more accountable for their participation figures, which has to be a good thing.
"Sport England has taken money away from those that have been deemed not to have delivered their numbers.
"It has also started working with other organisations, including charities and commercial providers, who have the reach, marketing nous and skills to grow participation, especially within hard to reach communities."
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