The rise of MAMIL

The MAMIL may be a recently-minted humorous acronym for a certain breed of cyclist – the ‘Middle-Aged Man In Lycra’ – but evidence from Kantar’s TGI shows that the species didn’t exist a generation ago. Furthermore, 50-64 year-old men are overall much more active nowadays than they used to be.

Today, 18% of 50-64 year-old men enjoy cycling as a leisure pursuit. Compared to the 13% of cyclists among the overall adult population, members of this group are 40% more likely to be found on two wheels – so the MAMIL really does exist. Interest in cycling has grown from almost nothing thirty years ago: in 1989 it wasn’t even measured on TGI.

It’s not only cycling that has grown in popularity. Men aged 50-64 are looking after their health and fitness to a greater extent nowadays, and in a range of ways. Overall 51% engage in at least one activity, compared to 41% in 1989.

Swimming is the most popular pursuit today, with 23% participating, up from 10%. Playing golf has declined among the population overall, but participation by this group has remained consistent at 9%. Gym-based cardio exercise has caught it up however.

But some activities are in decline. Snooker, one of the three most popular activities at 10% in 1989, is now less popular at 6%. The biggest change, however, is in the number playing bowls. The 7% participating in 1989 made it the fourth most popular activity among 50-64 year-old men at the time; now only 2% are to be found on the bowling green.

Not only are men of 50-64 more active today; they are engaging in activities which require more exertion. Many of them are heeding the messages about ways of maintaining their health and fitness, and are actively responding. This suggests opportunities for organisations and businesses involved in a range of fields – leisure provision, nutrition and sports equipment to name a few.

Research is vital for businesses taking decisions that have long-term implications.  Longitudinal analysis of data such as TGI, including the historical data held within the Archive for Market and Social Research (AMSR), can allow decision-makers to track and assess the impact of their actions