PORRIDGE AND PRIDE : Blog Part 2 – Participant Purchasing Behaviours


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A DI blog about the 2016 London Marathon isn’t going to summarise the facts and stats of this iconic event. Here at DI we figure that all that has already been recorded and reported elsewhere, and, we tend to look at things differently. As purveyors of digital behavioural intelligence.. we’re far more interested in the emotions that engage both participants and spectators in this incredible event.  We want to know what they do, buy and feel from day 1 of training, to day 80 at the start line.  What their families and friends experience as they support and nurture their loved ones over 3 gruelling months of personal sacrifice and dedication.

Why are we interested in this?  Because we understand the creative and commercial value of true and deep behavioural insights.   Being a blog, we’re short on space so we’ve focused on two key insight sources and split our blog into 2 parts.

Part 1 focuses on the key EMOTIONS EXPERIENCED AND EXPRESSED by participants and spectators in the 24hours around the event (6pm Sat to 6pm Sun).  Read Part 1 here

 Part 2 focuses on the product purchase behaviours of participants through the 3 month training, pre-race and recovery phases.


 In terms of products and the purchase behaviours of marathon participants, the findings (highly) summarised here were drawn from an in depth tracking survey undertaken in 2014.

DI’s research logged all digitally shared purchases taking place over the 3 month training regimen of tens of thousands of marathon participants, breaking these down chronologically into 7 key training phases – or touch points: –

  1. Getting started
  2. Getting serious
  3. Final month
  4. Countdown
  5. Expo day
  6. Race day
  7. Post race

Our tracking analysis ran for 82 days and has been niftily summarised into 3 monthly segments.  We uncovered strong correlation in purchase patterns and journeys and have anonymized these in terms of actual brand-winners in categories for this blog (but we do know who they were and are ;).

This level of highly specific timed detail would be highly effective when planning brand-activation led campaigns by major sponsors and for run operators and rights owners when considering sponsor and 3rd party engagement strategies.

Jan – Feb: Training Month 1

  • KIT: people buy A LOT of kit in January to prepare for their training.  This includes new, hi spec running shoes and multiple sets of running gear (tops, trousers, socks, layers, gloves, hats and so on).
  • DIET: nutritional planning begins in earnest. Diet plans are devised around training regiments and post-training treats are discussed and debated online at great length.
  • TECH: pacemakers, apps, hardware and software are all part of the training experience in the 10’s with clear favourites achieving almost cult-like followings (for example “if the run didn’t happen on Strava then it didn’t happen”)

Feb – Mar: Training Month 2

  • MORE KIT: People buy a second batch of kit. Mostly in the training shoe category.  Why? Because the first set just weren’t right, didn’t provide the comfort or performance expected or have not stood up to the punishing training miles and weather conditions of a UK winter.
  • DIET: Here we see people hit their training food-prep stride. They know what helps and what hinders their regimen and are finely tuning their diet to their schedule.
  • TRAVEL: Participants and their loved ones begin planning their travel, accommodation and itinerary in detail in early March.

Mar – Apr: Training Month 3

  • KIT: it gets serious here. Race gels, slabs of sport drinks and vats of lubricant are purchased along with the actual race-day kit (or costume!)
  • DIET: carb loading goes up a gear as do the purchase of supplements, vitamins and proteins (and….jelly babies and haribo!)
  • TRAINING: at this stage participants even begin to spend their hard earned cash on serious sports massages and physiotherapy to ease injuries, knots and repetitive strains that have accumulated during training

However, there is one item, one product, that people consistently refer to throughout their marathon preparation journey.  One product that is consumed almost every day from mid January to mid April.  And that is.  Drumroll. 

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Porridge.  Porridge was discussed from day 1 to day 82 of the London Marathon training regimen, through the protein phase, the carb loading phase, the nutritional preparations and vitamin cocktails…Porridge is an essential item.  I know which brands we’d have on speed dial this month if we worked at London Marathon Events Limited.


By synthesising big digital-data analysis with behavioural science we at DI provide bespoke insight generation on any subject matter.  From politics to marathons, from FMCG to household appliances.  Traditional research might tell you WHAT is happening, DI tell you WHY it is happening.

DI can inform the creative and planning process of campaigns.  The commercial strategy of customer, influencer and rights holder identification. Deep behavioural and engagement tracking of campaign performance and purchase journey analysis specific to any sector.


DI’s behavioural purchase analysis was tracked from Jan – April 2014 using a complex search string query within Brandwatch to enable the capture and categorisation of participants training journeys.

We then probed the data to establish (and triangulate) purchase patterns and correlations, logged brand names presenting in data sets, and built up a chronological product and purchase timeline from day 1 of training to the post marathon recovery phase.

For more information follow us @DI_Insights or say hi via hello@disruptiveinsight.co.uk

Thanks for reading.

© Disruptive Insight 2015.