5m anorak market hangs on the rails

It’s official. Trainspotters are normal, according to the latest research carried out by the British Steam Railways Marketing Fund. The figures speak for themselves. Last year, claims the Fund, nearly 7 million people visited steam lines. Of these, only eight per cent fell into the “enthusiast” category, which describes those anorak-wearing nerds oft abused for their sad pastime.

The rest were just ordinary, decent people looking for a fun day out. The Fund is using the figures to show what a mainstream activity trainspotting is, and is looking for brand sponsors for steam lines. As marketing adviser Brian Adams says: “Until recently, I believe adverse media coverage has deterred potential advertisers from participating. Now we’ve proved trainspotters are “normal” we hope they’ll think again.”

The Diary has seen a marketing opportunity. The figures show there are some 500,000 hard-core trainspotters in the UK, or one in a hundred of the British population. Now, at an average price of 9.99 per cheap, plastic anorak, that means the British are blowing an uncool 5m a year on anoraks – assuming the unstylish, plastic wind-cheaters last only 12 months. There is definitely an opportunity for any ambitious marketer.

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