Thought Leader: Mixed results in store for World Cup brands

by David Louis, Sales and Marketing Director of Field Sales Solutions

This World Cup is going to be very different for brands, consumers and retailers. The dominating promotional stacks of beer that greet customers on entering multiples, the line-up of prominent snack displays, and the unmissable special offers so familiar during the World Cup and Euros, simply won’t dominate retail floor space. Christmas means that football has to share attention, plus there is a major new legal factor at play.

The month long football tournament ending on 18 December, creates an overlap with Christmas that means the two events will blur together instore as customers experience offers coming from both angles.

The summer before last, the England team’s participation in the Euros generated £2.3 billion in food and drink sales, according to the Centre For Retail Research. Undoubtedly, the owners of different brands and grocery categories understand whether football or Yuletide is likely to be best for them as a promotional subject. The clash of timing will result in a fight for attention based on the appropriate theme for the brands concerned. But just having a good physical presence instore will be crucial. Retail space will be at an absolute premium.

Official sponsors will find generating a return on investment will be more difficult than normal. For Budweiser, Coca Cola, Lucozade, Weetabix, Snickers, Walkers, Princes Gate and Penderyn, the ambition to capitalise on sponsorship from extra attention through retail promotions will be limited compared to the normal less commercially busy summer period. In the months of June and July, when the World Cup and Euros are usually played, it is a relatively quiet time for multiples, which allows plenty of scope and space for marketing activity. This World Cup the very opposite is true.

The Euros and World Cup are ordinarily a bonanza for supermarket snack sales, but it won’t be the same this time around. The new High Fat Salt Sugar (HFSS) law severely restricts snack promotions in outlets of more than 2,000 square feet. That means the busy footfall ‘Red Areas’ in multiples, so valued as the location for promotions, are out of bounds to snack brands. They are restricted to their normal aisle territory. This is expected to significantly limit sales.

The new law also means high sugar soft drinks and confectionary are barred from the prime promotion locations, which may in fact, lead to beer assuming even more prominence than a normal World Cup or Christmas.

Despite the restrictions multiples face from HFSS, the same does not apply to CTNs, convenience stores, symbol stores, garage forecourts and dedicated off trade outlets because they are within the 2,000 square foot threshold. This allow soft drinks, confectionary and snack brands to turn to smaller retail operations to create instore football and Christmas instore activity.

Flying of the shelves

The intensity of both marketing and shopping during November and December means the expression, ‘Flying off the shelves’ will come as close to reality as it is possible to get. Large volume sales is naturally positive, but comes with the high possibility of brands emptying from their shelf space. It may be in the interests of retailers to keep brands present and available at all times in front of customers, but the reality is that there is no guarantee of constant monitoring and replenishing of stock. Staff are often simply too busy.

Overnight multiples make sure brands are restocked correctly, but during the day staff frequently give attention to the tasks that are most pressing, and keeping all the shelves full all of the time is not something that can be relied on, particularly during busy periods. After all, customers usually have a selection of brands to choose from when one or more runs out. Therefore, during the joint World Cup and Christmas period, it will be up to each brand to ensure store presence. It means field marketing teams should be busier than ever in supermarkets as brand owners strive to ensure optimum return from the unique situation.

In one respect, the World Cup coinciding with Christmas is a lost sales opportunity. Separately the two are major consumer buying events, but together they are unlikely to equate to the same volume of sales. In addition, the opportunity to benefit from marketing is partly compromised by the mingling of differently themed messages. To maximise the potential of the tournament and Christmas combined, marketers and retailers will have to work harder than ever to create attention, and maintain stock levels.








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