Globally, how many people practice paintball, and what is the global market size for this sport?
Hello and thanks for asking Wonder about how many people practice paintball globally. I appreciated the fun research!
In order to find some numbers, I started with general internet searching which led to helpful market reports for the U.S. Finding global numbers proved to be more difficult. Our research team continued more in-depth searches for industry information on sites like the National Paintball Association (U.S.),
UK Paintball Association and other similar associations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I also found the World Paint Ball Association (WPBA) site but unfortunately could not locate any current numbers for players or revenue worldwide. Therefore, below you will find my research results on U.S. numbers and the limited global data that was uncovered.
Firstly, paintball is in the "mature phase" of its life cycle. At its peak (between 2004 and 2006), "nearly as many people played paintball as played baseball in America". The United States was the leader in global sales of paintball equipment and accessories.
Participation in this sport is highly dependent on participants' free time and income. A typical day of play averages a hefty $35-50, according to industry experts quoted on Bloomberg. There is also uncertainty in the future of this industry because lack of free time and changing demographics. The major segment of paintballers are aged 10-19, and since there will be a decline in this demographic, the industry is at risk to experience further declines. Another considerable detractor from the sport is the rise in video game and internet usage of this age group. The forecast for industry revenue is lower for the next five-year period (2017-2022) than it was for the previous five-year period (2011-2016) because of these factors.
PAINTBALL IN THE U.S.
According to Statistica, there were 3.39 million participants in the U.S. in 2015 (the most current figure available). This is down from a high of 5.48 million participants in 2007. Since then, numbers of participants declined to 4+ million, then 3+ million, where it has held steady since 2010. I also researched the sales of paintball equipment during this same time period. Similarly, sales of paintball equipment had a high in 2007 of $300 million. Since then, sales decreased gradually until 2015, when there was a spike of $33 million from 2014.
In July 2016, IBIS World reported that there were 4,025 businesses in the paintball industry, employing approximately 30,000 people. IBIS also reports that there are no dominant players in the industry, which tells us that this is a highly fragmented industry.
As I mentioned above, the Wonder team could not find current global numbers despite extensive searching. The only numbers found were from 2006 when global sales of paintball equipment reached $434 million. They were $427 million in 2005 and as high as $537 million in 2004 (comparatively, baseball/softball equipment sales were around $500 million for the same period). This report also noted that the U.S. accounted for approximately 85% of the worldwide business. I could not find data on the worldwide market share today, but based on my research, I would guess that this share is more dispersed today (evidenced by the number of paintball associations and events around the world).
I also came across a report from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association that may be helpful. The Paintball Participation Report (2016) provides an in-depth analysis and breakdown of participation demographics for paintball, but only in the U.S. This is a paid report ($195).
Lastly, I took a look at Google Trends for some further insights. On the attached chart, you will see the search term "Paintball" and how it has declined globally, since February 2012. The country with the highest interest (searches) was Germany, followed by New Zealand, South Africa, Austria, Latvia, Belgium and the U.S.
I hope this information is helpful. Please come back with any additional questions. We truly appreciate your continued business.
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