The 2018 World Cup offers easy wins for wholesalers who raise their game. Lee Graham explains how you can turn a summer of football into a summer of footfall.
With England among the 32 teams taking part in the FIFA World Cup in Russia this year, there is a major opportunity for you to boost sales of alcohol, soft drinks and sharing items in particular. Those watching the event at home will be making the most of the Big Night In, while pubs are likely to be packed to the rafters on matchdays.
During UEFA Euro 2016, sales at drink-led pubs and bars rose by 4% in the first few weeks of the tournament, despite England suffering a humiliating defeat to Iceland (although Wales did make it to the semi-finals). And during 2014’s FIFA World Cup, retail sales of beer, lager and cider rose by an average of 12%.
In this article, suppliers, retailers and on-trade managers share their views on what you and your customers can do to score big profits in the run-up to 2018’s summer of soccer.
Support soft drinks
With many World Cup matches taking place during the working week, most football fans are likely to want to give alcohol the red card on matchdays.
“Consumers may increasingly turn to soft drinks. Stocking both lower- and no-sugar options, as well as different flavour variants, means they will have a range of options to choose from,” says Amy Burgess, external communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP).
She points out that 21% of adults choose not to consume alcohol generally and that it is increasingly popular to arrange a night in with family and friends to watch televised sporting events.
“It is clear that soft drinks provide a major opportunity for wholesalers and retailers to increase sales,” she says.
Lucy Grogut, Lucozade Sport brand director at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, adds: “Sales of soft drinks typically spike by more than 5% during major football tournaments – with Lucozade Sport sales rising by as much as 12% – so consider giving these products extra space in-depot. Encourage retailers to tempt in shoppers with Lucozade Sport Orange, the UK’s number-one sports drink. Be sure not to forget about Lucozade Sport Raspberry, either, the brand’s fastest-growing flavour.”
CCEP’s Burgess says that her firm has also seen a rise in demand for premium products as more people choose to watch sport at home. “There is a trend for recreating cocktails and bar-quality drinks at home to bring a sense of occasion to a night in,” she says. “Social media is having an impact, too, with people looking for products they can photograph and share on Facebook or Instagram. Because of this, factors including stylish packaging, such as our iconic Coca-Cola glass bottle, can be the difference between whether someone buys or not.”
Champion sharing packs
More and more, consumers are reaching for confectionery at home in front of the TV, according to Andrew Ovens, marketing manager at Big Bear Confectionery.
“Kantar research shows that compared to 2014, sharing occasions with five or more people consuming chocolate have risen 27%, as people continue to cut costs by staying in with friends and family,” he says.
He adds that in response to rising demand for sharers, this May will see the launch of the company’s new 250g resealable stand-up doypacks for Poppets. These are designed to offer greater value, provide better on-shelf appeal and help retailers by making more efficient use of shelf space.
“The new products will sit alongside the existing range. This offers both solo-flavour bags of Toffee and Mint and also, in response to growth in demand for ‘mix-up’ options, sharing bags of Poppets Movie Mix. These feature four flavours: Orange Fondant, Dairy Fudge, Chocolate Shortcake and Juicy Raisin.”
Mars Wrigley Confectionery sharing bags saw an increase of 2% in sales in the 12 months to November. Among the company’s key players were Maltesers, the UK’s number-one boxed bitesize brand, and M&Ms, the world’s bestselling chocolate brand.
“M&Ms outperformed the chocolate category by recording more than £7m in sales – an increase of 9%,” says Lauren George, Mars’ brand and trade PR manager. “With 47% of consumers spending less money on out-of-home entertainment and 50% eating out less, the Big Night In remains a key sales opportunity.”
“Encourage retailers to focus their displays on products that are ideal for sharing,” adds Dan Newell, the company’s ‘fruity confections’ brand manager. “These include Starburst tear-and-share pouches, which are individually wrapped and offer a variety of flavours for everyone to enjoy.”
Pitch new promotions
Be sure to maximise a range of tie-in products and World Cup-themed promotions this summer. Among them is Mars’ Football Sweetstake – a play on the long-serving fan tradition of sweepstakes.
“Consumers will be able to win a suite of prizes, including a £10,000 jackpot, whenever they buy a nominated product,” says George. “The ‘Sweetstake’ runs across 11 brands including Mars, M&Ms and Maltesers. To enter, consumers will simply need to input the on-pack code online. This promotion will be backed by a £1.2m media spend, so wholesalers can be assured that these products are going to be popular.”
Elsewhere, Mug Shot has capitalised on growing demand for snack meals, with sales up 16% year-on-year. “We currently sell 2.7 packs of Mug Shot every second of every day, and special editions have played a key role in delivering impressive growth,” says Mike Benton, head of snacking at the brand’s owner, Symington’s. “Our limited-edition The Russian One beef stroganoff pasta will be available from the start of May to ensure wholesalers have ample time to stock up pre-tournament. As with the rest of the Mug Shot range, The Russian One is low in fat at less than 2%. This is important to our loyal customer base, who are actively looking for guilt-free, convenient, yet tasty snacks.”
Also well-timed for this year’s World Cup is an initiative from Lucozade Sport called ‘Made To Move’. Supported by a £5m advertising spend, it will encourage consumers to be more active, and will be run in partnership with England and Spurs footballer Harry Kane as well as heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua.
“The campaign is backed by an on-pack competition giving consumers the chance to win a range of more than 200,000 prizes and encouraging additional purchase,” says Lucozade’s Grogut.
“Generally, most groups will order some form of food, mostly sharing platters, while watching the games. For this reason, we will be promoting a ‘sharing platter and bucket of beer’ deal. We probably will not go beyond food and beer – as much as we want to get extra revenue from the World Cup, we are still a premium venue and are careful with how certain offers can reflect on the business and clientele.”
Olly Green, Franklyn’s Bar & Kitchen, Heswall, Wirral
“I would encourage wholesalers to stock more bottles during the World Cup. When sport is showing, we find that offers on buckets of bottles – perhaps eight for the price of 10 – work really well. If you have big groups of lads, they do not want to be waiting at the bar for pints, as they might have to make a number of trips and end up missing a goal.”
Kate Davidson, The Prince Arthur, London
“We will be making sure our snacks stay topped up and there will be deals on four-packs of beers. The biggest challenge for us is making customers aware of tie-in products and promotions. We really love point-of-sale material, as we find people are more likely to purchase if they make the decision themselves, rather than because we suggested it. Anything big and flashy is great!”
Ben Dyer, Debbens News, Waterlooville, Hampshire
“We are expecting to do well with Panini sticker albums as these have become popular again in recent years. Sales of sharing chocolate bars also tend to go up during sports events and this offsets the usual summer dip. It is worth noting that news sales increase during big football events, too.”
Kamal Sisodia, Belvoir News Loco, Coalville, Leicestershire