Head Start

Cracking Gen Z Runners

January 10, 2023 Ryan Callahan Episode 48
Head Start
Cracking Gen Z Runners
Show Notes

In RunSignup’s latest RaceTrends report, registration data showed that less than 13% of race participants in 2021 races fell within the 18-30 age group - a number that used to be almost 18% as recently as 2017, and keeps on falling.

So why is it that races fail to attract younger audiences?

That’s what we’ll be exploring today with the help of my guest Pacers Running Marketing Director, Ryan Callahan. Ryan and the Pacers Running team recently pulled off the remarkable feat of getting more than 40% of their DC Half start line made up of 18-30 runners, and we’ll be going over a number of deliberate strategic and tactical decisions the team took to encourage participation within that younger demographic. Among other things, we’ll look at intentional branding and website design as a means of appealing to younger runners, and initiatives undertaken by the team in offline as well as online marketing to reach that target demographic. 

Today’s discussion probably doesn’t hold all the answers to this very complex challenge facing the industry, but there’s some very big clues in there about what races can do to improve their appeal among younger audiences.

In this episode:

  • Participation trends in the 18-30 age group
  • Why the Gen Z problem is fixable, and some races are doing better than others
  • How DC Half managed to attract 3 times more 18-30 runners than the US race average
  • The making of the DC Half brand
  • Being intentional with your event choices: race name, logo, swag, website, course design
  • Why it's important to keep your race website clear of information clutter
  • Beyond cliches: building a DC race from the perspective of a DC local
  • Checking boxes vs being thoughtful about your race swag choices
  • Offline marketing strategies for reaching 18-30 runners
  • Building an engaging race brand on Instagram
  • Leveraging community and grassroots efforts to reach your target audience

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

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