'Muted' World Cup consumer response

2014 World Cup preperations

Retailers are in full swing to capitalise on the World Cup with shelves heaving with everything from Brazilian food to huge televisions - with their efforts thwarted only by a lack of enthusiasm from consumers, according to analysts.

There is an "overarching low level of enthusiasm" about World Cup merchandise, according to a study by market researchers Conlumino on behalf of Webloyalty.


Approximately 40% of people do not plan on watching, or will actively boycott, the event, the study found, while a separate report by analysts Mintel found 52% of Britons were supporting the England team.

Gareth Field, associate director at sport and sponsorship communications agency Pitch, said: "It's fair to say that response has been somewhat muted, on the part of retailers, marketers and consumers.

"The main reason is that the expectation of England winning the World Cup is at an all-time low.

"The fact that Roy Hodgson is playing down expectations every time he does a press conference is dampening down enthusiasm.

"Ultimately what happens on Saturday night if England beat Italy... that fervour is going to change dramatically."

While 99% of people said replica shirts were too expensive, some 78% of people said they would not buy one anyway, Webloyalty found, and less than 2% planned on buying any other tournament or team themed clothing or accessories, such as scarves, posters, mugs, stickers or key rings.

UK retailers will see an average spend of £16 per head as a result of the tournament, with just over half of the population planning to follow the games at all compared to the three-quarters that tuned in for the 2010 games, the study revealed.

It also found 94% planned to watch games at home, while 23% said watching at the pub was an option.

But this indicates supermarkets and retailers selling home entertainment systems were set to be the biggest winners from the event.

Guy Chiswick, managing director of Webloyalty Northern Europe, said: "With so many fans planning to watch the games from home this year, spending on food and drink to entertain friends will be a common priority.

"Supermarkets and electronics retailers can therefore expect to cash in on football fever this year."

John Lewis said sales of TVs were up 48% on the same week last year, a popular brand of meat grill was up 200% and coffee machines were up 32%.

Sainsbury's said it expected to sell two million burgers this weekend, 10 million sausages, more than 30,000 of its largest televisions and 280,000 England flags.

Asda said it had already sold more than 20,000 sets of George bunting and 3,000 bandanas and whistles, with England novelty hats, face paint and foam fingers "selling well".

Waitrose said sales of beer were up 40% year on year and up 20% on last week, with frozen pizzas up 30% and ice cream up 52%.

Fans were also stocking up on coffee - up 8% - presumably to cope with the late timing of games, and sales of bacon were up 10%.

The Co-operative is predicting a "bumper" trading weekend, with expectations of a 50% rise in pizza sales, a 150% surge in sales of Prosecco and a doubling of beer sales.

The Co-operative Food customer director Andrew Mann said: "This weekend promises to rival the Olympics 'Super Saturday', with the good weather and a major sporting event contributing to increased consumer demand.

"We are braced for a busy weekend as football fans make the most of the weather and watch the games and we do expect a last minute surge as some fans choose to leave the pub and stock up before the late kick-off on their way home.

"Although we will be cheering on England on the pitch, Italian pizza, wine and beer will certainly score with fans off it, although the weather could swing it in favour of an English BBQ.

"Let's just hope that it's not an omen if shoppers stock up on Italian foods and drinks."

Conlumino managing director Neil Saunders said: "I think the response from consumers has been relatively muted. Whilst people are enthusiastic about the tournament itself, they are not linking this to buying things as they may have done in the past.

"Retailers, especially supermarkets, have been fairly enthusiastic in their promotions and displays. Overall, the World Cup will have a positive impact on spend but it won't be revolutionary.

"Supermarkets are the main winners, mostly because many are planning to watch the matches from home and will buy food, drink and snacks for the games. Off licences and wine merchants will also see a boost."

He added: "I think sports retailers will see a more muted impact than normal. Many people are put off buying kit and shirts due to the high price points and perceived profiteering."

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