They may say it’s only a game, but with the FIFA World Cup broadcast in every single country and territory on the planet, with 13.5 million people in the UK alone tuning in for England’s humiliation at the hands of Germany in 2010, few could deny the tournament’s importance to the nation and its shopkeepers.

According to Asa Chamberlain, Nisa business manager for drinks, the tournament has the potential to be as lucrative as the festive season. “The World Cup is going to be one of the biggest opportunities for the independent sector in 2014 - it’s seen in the trade as another Christmas,” he says. “For a wider view, it will boost the economy by around £1bn! Considering that cracking summer sales are weather dependent, the sales of product through the tournament are vital this year for many categories.”

When to kick off your World Cup activity

With the football calendar getting ever-more congested, deciding when to forget about the Premier League and look to the World Cup can be tricky. Too early and your customers may suffer from World Cup fatigue, but leave it too late and you may end up on the bench.

Budweiser UK marketing manager Jennifer Anton says that you want to be known as the store that is ready for the World Cup. “Retailers who are going to win at this World Cup are those who get in early, ” she says. “You want to be known as the destination for drinks and snacks during the tournament so it’s vital you start stocking early.”

Coca-Cola Enterprises trade communications manager Dave Turner says that the excitement will begin six weeks before a ball is kicked, so retailers should aim for May to begin informing customers of their promotions. “As excitement builds, it’s vital that retailers engage shoppers in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. Suppliers will be looking to support retailers in the build up with promotions and marketing campaigns designed to build anticipation. We’d expect most of these campaigns to be in the market from the beginning of May and recommend retailers display from then.”

Spar UK head of marketing Philippe Rondepierre says that even if you’re not stocking World Cup products in May, you should be promoting them to your customers “certainly no later than a fortnight before the event”. “We will be starting to talk about it in May. While shoppers may not react immediately, it is essential they know you are there to provide them with their ‘essentials’ when they need them.”

Londis retail director John Pattison says the growing trend of watching matches at home will benefit retailers. “Any major sporting event always offers plenty of opportunity for independent retailers to drive sales and profits,” he says. “And they don’t come much bigger than the FIFA World Cup, with many watching the games from the comfort of their own home.”

Spar UK head of marketing Philippe Rondepierre says there are three tactics that retailers should take during the World Cup. “First, remind shoppers ahead of the tournament that the World Cup is coming, and ensure that shoppers can stock up with larger packs of beer, soft drinks and snacks,” he says. “They need to know that stores will have what they need in time for the first game on 12 June.

“Second, ensure that packs of chilled beer, quick meal solutions and snacks are available for a quick ‘grab’ on the way home for games kicking off at 5pm, or to ‘nip out’ and replenish before the 9pm and 11pm games.

“And third, maintain awareness of the tournament, creating excitement around the key games as well as reminding shoppers of the times when these games are to take place. Link deals between beer and pizzas or other ready meals will prove popular. The key is in providing solutions to make it easy for shoppers to replenish quickly.”

Creative planning

Jai Singh of Singh’s Premier in Sheffield is anxiously awaiting the World Cup as he says it represents a great opportunity for those retailers who think outside the box. “The World Cup can provide a great increase in sales if you make the effort,” he says. “We’ll decorate the store in England flags, have the matches on and run promotions centring around football.”

Alkesh Gadher of Best One Isleworth in London says the tournament creates a feel-good factor that results in sales. “Every time there’s a big tournament on, people are more positive and willing to spend,” he says. “The World Cup is no different, just as long as England stay in it! We’ll be getting ready for it with plenty of multipacks of beer and snacks.”

Nisa’s Chamberlain advises retailers to focus on the entire tournament, not just the games that England feature in. “It’s essential that retailers have adequate stock of all the top promotions on the key product categories over the full four weeks,” he says. “Timings of the games mean there will be a large element of the ‘Big Night In’ theme for many fans and families, as all games are televised in the late afternoon onwards. This special occasion will involve crisps, confectionery, soft drinks and alcohol.

“Retailers also need to ensure they have a great range of chilled products for readily available meal occasions such as pizzas and ready meals.”

Target the entire team

Jai agrees it’s important to look past the traditional categories when promoting for the tournament. “Beer and snacks will always do well during the World Cup and should be a focus, but there’s an opportunity to do so much more,” he adds.

When creating promotions, Jai considers all those who may be watching matches, as well as those who won’t be glued to their screens. “It’s not just men watching the games; it’s a family occasion so you should cater for wives and children by having wine and confectionery on promotion,” he points out. “There’s also a lot of football widows out there who need to be catered for, and that’s another opportunity for a sale.”

All in the timing

With most of the matches kicking off at 5pm and 8pm, convenience store owners have an opportunity to capitalise on the TV scheduling.

According to Jennifer Anton, Budweiser UK marketing manager, the times will work to retailers’ advantage. “Shoppers won’t have time to go to the supermarket after work if they are watching the game at home, so a convenience store represents the best option,” she says. “Retailers need to be ready for the rush after work. In the build-up to the tournament, customers will go to the out-of-town stores, but on match days people will be going to their convenience stores.”

Carlsberg trade marketing director David Scott advises retailers to plan out their day so that they can make the most of alcohol sales during the games. “The timings of the games suit the impulse channel so retailers should be looking at finding ways of ensuring they have as much chilled beer as possible for their customers,” he says. “It may be worth filling up your chilled snacks or milk chiller with beers in the afternoon once the stock has run down so you make the most of your space and aren’t letting customers down.”

Alkesh agrees: “When a big football match is on everything else takes a back seat, so there’s an opportunity for ready meals and cross-selling,” he says.

Pattison says that targeting all members of a family can help grow basket spend during the tournament. “Impulse, food to go, plus beers, wines and spirits, and sharing snacks is where the big opportunities are for retailers as family and friends gather together,” he says.

“There’s also an opportunity to tap into the football widow, who will be looking for a quick and easy alternative to cooking her traditional evening meal from scratch as partners prioritise the games.”

Jai’s World Cup preparations have already begun and he’s considering which promotions to run. “Carling has approached us about running some in-store theatre with us, so we may look at having the brand on promotion for as long as England is in the tournament,” he says. “We’re already on the look-out for deals that we know will do well during the tournament, and we’re buying in stock for it now.

“Flags do very well for us; we’ll have them on display in the store and people will pick one up on impulse,” he says.

Alkesh will start promoting World Cup products about three to four weeks ahead of the tournament. “Our May and June Best One promotions will be World Cup- related, so they will time nicely with the build up to the tournament,” he says.

“We’ll also get a sale or return one-metre display unit containing flags and bunting. It always does well during events such as these and it shows that you’re supporting the national team.”

Rondepierre backs the idea that retailers who do more will score. “In-store theatre is essential ahead of and throughout the World Cup,” he says. And should England’s time in the tournament be brief, all is not lost as “any sunny day after their exit represents a substantial opportunity for sales”.

High expectations

With a tough first round group, England’s hopes of replicating their 1966 triumph do seem quite slim, but Jai says that won’t stop the public hoping, or spending. “The longer England are in the tournament the better, but the interest doesn’t die off as soon as they’re out,” he says.

“People just want to watch good football and the World Cup only comes round once every four years, so it’s quite a novelty.”

Alkesh says that the spirit does tend to dip a little after an England exit, but fans usually pick themselves up for the tournament’s next round. “Sales are always better when England are playing. If the team go out early, the next round of games are watched less, but then people’s ‘other’ favourites kick in and they want to keep an interest in the tournament,” he says.

The pressure looks like it’s off the England team for this year, but it’s mounting for retailers who can make the four weeks of football a golden month for sales.


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