The Rugby World Cup kicks off next month in France, providing an opportunity for retailers to devise a game plan for extra sales

The battle for this year's Rugby World Cup begins on September 7 when current champions England, along with Wales, Scotland and Ireland, will take on the best teams in the world for the top title. The good news for retailers is that the tournament, running until October, will spark a major opportunity to increase sales. And unlike 2003, when the tournament took place in Australia, this year it's France-based which means matches will be on television at a reasonable hour, perfect for c-store sales.
Manufacturers who get behind the tournament include official sponsors Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), which is running a promotion on its Powerade brand. More than four million promotional bottles give consumers the chance to win tickets to the tournament plus accommodation and travel in a text-to-win/online mechanic. Tickets will be drawn weekly. The competition is being supported by a £1m integrated marketing campaign. In addition, all consumers who enter the competition win a free day pass at Virgin Active gyms.
CCE marketing controller Sarah Mitchell says: "Rugby is the second most popular team sport in the UK and as England is current world champion there will be huge interest in the Rugby World Cup."
Heineken is offering a limited-edition Rugby World Cup-branded half-pint glass to consumers who buy any two multipacks of Heineken. A special-edition 500ml can will also be available to the trade.
Pos material including posters and wobblers will enable retailers to add theatre and drive sales. Heineken UK customer marketing controller Chris Duffy says: "With no football World Cup or European Championships this year, and one of the wettest Julys on record, the Rugby World Cup provides retailers with the chance to catch up on sales."
United Biscuits has seen the potential of the event with an on-pack promotion across three of its brands. Packs of McVitie's Jaffa Cakes, McCoy's and KP Nuts are carrying a text-to-win mechanic with a top prize of £100,000 and a total prize fund of £160m. There is a one in 10 chance of winning a prize and the promotion is being supported with a Daily Mirror media partnership. UBUK trading PR and communications manager Jessica Wylie says that these brands were chosen for this promotion as they had worked well with the Ian Wright Football World Cup promotion last year.
One retailer who is hoping to use the tournament to boost sales is rugby fan Dean Holborn of Redhill, Surrey. He expects beer sales to increase, although he has not seen much promotional activity to date. He says: "Any time there is a major sporting event, we make sure that the alcohol fridges are stocked up so people can drop in on the way to watch the match."

Key fixtures

Opening Match:
Friday, September 7
France v Argentina
Friday, September 14
England v South Africa
Saturday, September 15
Wales v Australia
Friday, September 21
France v Ireland
Sunday, September 23
Scotland v New Zealand
Final: Saturday, October 20