Prior to COVID-19 A Third of Brits Spend Just Two Hours a Week on Hobbies Research reveals the changing face of UK pastimes among four generations

Julia Devonshire from The Fourth Angel
27 Apr 2020

• Board games popular among the under 40s but less so with older people • Cleaning & organising was lauded as a hobby by 23% of Millennials • 47% questioned often/always use the internet to research new things to do • Six in 10 (58%) cited the need for more time in their lives to take up hobbies • Travel and holidays didn’t figure in the top 15 hobbies for Generation Z • The older you get, the less likely you are to feel that your hobbies are stereotypical of your generation • Choice is key when it comes to incentives and loyalty schemes • Time spent on Hobbies is likely to rocket during Covid-19 lockdown

The generational game research has revealed that common stereotypes around age are not a barometer of what someone may do in their spare time.

A study of 2824 people across the UK undertaken by Blackhawk Network, found the internet and social media is dominating how we choose to research new hobbies, democratising their availability across four key generations.

While some passions such as cinema and film, listening to music, eating out, cooking and books, magazines, and literature all figured highly among Baby Boomers (55-75), Gen X (40-54), Millennials (25-39) and Gen Z (18-24), many other trends came as more of a surprise.

For example, board games - once seen as a pastime of an older age - figured in the top 15 hobbies for Gen Z and Millennials but not in the same list for Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Six in 10 Gen Zs have recently changed hobbies vs 31% of Baby Boomers – but given the current lockdown measures, this number will almost certainly have increased over the past few weeks as people have more time on their hands to try things new, especially while cinemas and restaurants have closed and sports have stopped.

Travel also seemed to buck usual expectations. Four in 10 Baby Boomers consider travel as an important hobby, but it didn't figure at all in the top 15 for Gen Z, an age group perceived to love holidays with friends or wanting to see the world alone by backpacking.

Furthermore, while Baby Boomers are now, in general, much younger, fitter and healthier so presumed to be exercising more, the research discovered aerobic exercise such as yoga and Pilates didn’t figure at all in their top 15 - as opposed to being chosen by a quarter of Generation Zs and 30% of Millennials. However, with all the free Zoom fitness sessions being offered during lockdown, this is a likely area of increase as people of all age groups take advantage of trying something new.

The report also found that while three in 10 said “inspiration from someone they know” was a key factor in choosing a new hobby, money is still the biggest barrier to doing so. More spare cash was cited by 65% as the main barrier to encourage them to explore a new pastime. The vast majority (72%) were found to only spend £50 or less each month on their interest(s), with one in seven (15%) spending between £50 and £100.

Blackhawk Network questioned a representative sample of the country across age groups, income bands and other demographic factors such as employment and relationship status.

Chris Ford, Senior Director at Blackhawk Network, said: “While this report looked at the usual hobbies Brits enjoy, the findings are even more prevalent during the Covid-19 crisis. Now more than ever people have the time to engage in their favourite pastimes, or even try new ones. This report reveals that taking a stereotypical view of the hobbies people partake in, purely based on their age is no longer appropriate for brands looking to engage and motivate consumer behaviour. You cannot any longer second-guess each generation’s passion points just because of their age group.
“In fact, many more unusual hobbies were also named in our research including wrestling, rabbit or dog showing, sword fighting, soap making and ghost hunting, which just goes to show that you can never second guess what people are into. .”

Blackhawk Network also found more than half (58%) cited the need for more time while roughly one in five described motivation (22%), confidence to do things alone (20%) and being able to join a class or group in their area (19%) as the three basic requirements needed to encourage them to try new things.

And while some hobbies are now less fashionable than they once were, the unusual times we find ourselves in provides more time (few people are spending hours commuting), more motivational stories and the opportunity to join in on a virtual class at the press of a button. Only 5% said religion was a hobby or interest for them, just 4% opted for flower arranging and similarly low figures were found for racquet sports, fishing and martial arts - all once very popular.

Chris Ford added: "With nearly 150 different hobbies mentioned in our comprehensive report, it's heartening to see the wide-range of things people do for fun, learning, enjoyment and to escape from everyday life. And while we see ourselves in very unusual circumstances, this isn’t going to be forever. The brands that will be most successful and the ones that can have the greatest impact, short and long term, are the ones that recognise what people really enjoy doing, even when situation globally change.

"At Blackhawk Network, we know the value of offering choice. It is a key part of our global strategy for our entire branded payment portfolio. Choice negates the need to second-guess wants and desires; you can’t offer consumers everything, but you can empower them to make the best choice for themselves.

Rather than narrowing selections, many brands, retailers and service providers are now actively choosing tools to provide their customers with more varied choices. Choices that allow the recipient to select their own value from a myriad of options."

Other interesting findings were: • Veganism listed specifically as an “other” interest by many, with conscious healthy eating trends causing organic food to make the list for 6% of people • A fifth of hobby research was found to be done on Facebook • 36% only devote less than a couple of hours a week on hobbies although this will be growing by the day as we continue to navigate our changing landscape

Looking ahead, one major advance for the future could come through ‘how-to’ guides as 12% of those questioned said having these or being able to access help and support in getting started would encourage them to try a new hobby or interest.

Social media is also playing a key role. One in five use Facebook for hobby research with one in seven using Instagram. However, 3% naming TikTok as their platform of choice to research or peruse hobbies and interests so this could be one to watch.

To read the complete report go to

For more information, please contact:
Julia Devonshire
The Fourth Angel
43 Burlington Close
BR6 8PP Orpington
United Kingdom

Category: Marketing
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