Insight

Driving Football Home for Christmas

Use insights to capitalise on the clash of the football World Cup and Christmas 2022.

For the first time in the FIFA World Cup's 92-year history, the tournament will take place this year in winter between November and December. The blistering temperatures of the host nation, Qatar, during the summer months mean that the usual summertime fixture is taking place over the cooler festive season. With the final taking place just a week before Christmas Day, it's clear that there will be a knock-on effect to the usual festive and sporting event spending trends.

With the World Cup schedule encompassing Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the festive shopping period, companies must find innovative strategies to market these golden quarter big hitters alongside the football. By diving deep into consumer attitudes, there are plenty of ways to score big over this unprecedented chapter.

Who are Ya?!

The first way to succeed this year is to shoot for the target audience. Alongside the regular Christmas consumers, there are the football fans. But what do we know about them, and how can we use this to influence strategies for marketing products?

The football shoppers are predominantly male, mostly young, with a greater interest in sports outside of football. 37% of this audience claim to drink alcohol at least once a week, 35% eat fast food, and 30% eat out at restaurants once a week. 89% of this market watch sports at home, which suggests space to take advantage of at-home experiences. Those men who are the primary household shoppers are the most likely to be interested in football overall, so there's a space to capitalise on these individuals.

It almost goes without saying that these consumers are interested in football shirts and merchandise. For this audience of die-hard fans, they're still going to want to represent their home team regardless of their financial worries.

Fans believe sports bring people together, which ties in nicely with the attitude to Christmas this year. The focus is less on indulgence and more on quality time spent with family and friends. With this in mind, pushing food and drink for smaller at-home gatherings is a clever angle to explore.

Only some people watching the World Cup will be long-time fans, with 43% of people planning to watch every or as many matches as possible. So, carefully crafting campaigns to address a wider variety of audiences and paying attention to differences in the World Cup tournament compared to previous years will impact shopper behaviour.

Changes in attitude drive changes in behaviour.

There are many factors alongside the seasonal timing of the World Cup that will affect spending this year. With the Northern Hemisphere in the chilly winter months, the draw of watching the matches will sway viewers from the usual beer gardens and pubs to their cosy living rooms. As a result, the IGD predict a rise in quick commerce and in-home experiences as shoppers aim to create unique and cost-effective occasions from the comfort of their homes.

The different time zones show that watching behaviours will change, with matches occurring at 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm UK time. These kick-off times open up opportunities for less usual products to engage with the audience. For example, breakfast items and hot beverages will be well-placed for the 10 am matches as opposed to the expected cold drinks and snacks associated with watching football games.

With inflation rates at the forefront of people's minds, it's logical to assume shopping behaviours will be more frugal this year. In a report from Retail Week, 77% of consumers plan to cut back from Christmas spending, with 39% saying they'll spend a lot less. In addition, consumers are cutting back on non-essential expenditure, with this expected to deepen over the autumn/winter months with the looming cost-of-living crisis.

However, previous years show that World Cup tournaments boost shopper confidence and positivity. 69% of shoppers agreed that they were looking forward to the World Cup, with 56% saying that the scope and number of celebrations will depend on how far their home nations' teams get. With early predictions saying England will reach at least the semi-finals, there is a chance shoppers will relax their budgets should we perform well. Previous habits during significant sporting events show increased impulse purchasing and promotion engagement. In a survey by Limited Space, 39% of people said they're planning to buy a World Cup-related product which can form an adaptable strategy to maximise on impulse spending if a team goes far in the competition.

For the 2018 World Cup, interest only began about a month before the tournament commenced, which is likely to be echoed for 2022. However, club football taking place alongside the games this year could distract attention from the competition itself. Compare this with the Christmas shoppers who tend to budget and plan ahead; 44% will have their shopping done by Black Friday. But a considerable proportion of male Christmas shoppers do their festive purchasing closer to the holiday, and this group is most likely to be impacted by the World Cup.

Alcoholic drinks are heavily restricted in Qatar and will not be sold or advertised in stadiums during the event. Pair this with cost-of-living worries, and 63% of shoppers saying they would cut back on alcohol during the World Cup, and drinks brands are facing problems with their typical marketing strategies. As such, companies will have to adapt to different advertising methods for the football and Christmas audience. Opportunities for promotion will take on new creative approaches, from Smart Mass Sampling products at home to experiential events that consumers can attend to spend quality time with family and friends.

It's worth noting that data shows shoppers will prioritise Christmas over the World Cup, with shoppers less likely to take an interest in football-related merchandise than in standard years where the event is very separate from the festive period.

Set the Goalposts for Success.

Coming out of two years of isolated Christmases due to the Covid-19 pandemic, togetherness at Christmas is a crucial drive for marketing. With worries over finances, people are likely to cut down on spending on gifts with a preference instead for quality time. Combine this with football fans' attitude that sport brings people together, and there are plenty of opportunities for brands to encourage hosting celebratory events for both occasions with family and friends.

As previously mentioned, if a home nation's team does well, 1 in 3 shoppers will likely spend more. Introducing football-themed special offers and promotional items will appeal to less affluent audiences. Emphasising the high value of these products could influence how these consumers spend.

The focus on quality time together is an excellent basis for campaign strategies, with 81% of shoppers saying they'll watch matches at home. Consumers may favour "picky foods" and seasonal food and drink to accommodate hosting different parties, from watching a game to a seasonal get-together. Retailers can offer "foods from around the world" to promote atypical Christmas products and tie in with the countries participating in the World Cup.

With TV sales forecast to be less effective than the usual Christmas bump due to market saturation caused by the football, exploring other short-video channels and content can capitalise on the target market's habits. Football players and teams are the most followed on social media, with YouTube, Facebook and Instagram coming out on top for content access from football fans. Using these mediums for product placement could be vital in showcasing sports and festive merchandise.

Summary.

Predicting this year's Q4 is tricky with its unprecedented event combination. As a result, retailers must be versatile to meet the market's anticipated or unforeseen demands—an ability to shift campaign strategies as required with creative and innovative ways to tackle shoppers.

The big winners are the brands that can create multi-faceted campaigns that appeal to both audiences, with Christmas as the star player and football as the solid substitute ready to be brought into play.

Championing in-home experiences through Smart Mass Sampling, promotional meal deals, and cross-category combinations will likely succeed this season and ensure a fruitful festive period.

References:

Retail Economics and digital wallet HyperJar.

Qatar 2022: Will a winter World Cup kill holiday shopping? (cnn.com)

THE CHRISTMAS FORECAST (retail-week.com)