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11/22/2022
RL Pro Exclusive

What the World Cup Means for Retailers

Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader Pro
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ProTip: Sports fandom and retail have always been symbiotic, but with major world sporting events, the relationship between the two grows stronger. Retailers need to look for creative ways to bring these fans into their ecosystems to provide experiences and products that celebrate their passion and fandom. (Click here to jump to the full RL Pro Analyst Take below.)

Major sporting events can boost retail sales, and FIFA World Cup 2022 — which began Nov. 20 — is one event that has international dynamism. Insightful brands with relevant merchandise have targeted their packaging and marketing efforts to coincide with one of the largest tournaments in the world.

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Soccer fans watching TV
FIFA World Cup 2022 viewership is anticipated to become the world’s greatest multi-platform sports event ever.

For the first time, World Cup 2022 is being held in November and December, the exact time retailers are focusing on their crucial holiday sales and consumers are juggling holiday shopping, meals and travel. NBCUniversal, for example, will have four games of the World Cup on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., airing on linear and on Peacock, and then leading into Sunday night football.

More than half the world watched the 2018 World Cup, according to FIFA. English-language World Cup broadcast rights belong to Fox Sports, and will be broadcast on its family of networks and the Fox Sports app. World Cup match replays will be streamed for free on Tubi. NBCUniversal’s Telemundo U.S. Spanish-language broadcast and Peacock will air all 64 games live with pregame sponsorship by Ford, the halftime by T-Mobile and the postgame by Coca-Cola. Other major brand partners that have signed on for Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup: Volkswagen, Samsung and Xfinity. In turn, NBCUniversal has exceeded all of its 2022 World Cup revenue goals and well ahead of national and local ad sales from the 2018 World Cup. 

FIFA World Cup 2022 viewership is anticipated to outpace 2018, and become the world’s greatest multi-platform sports event ever.

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Soccer fans watching TV
FIFA World Cup 2022 is the perfect excuse for people to get together in front of the TV and enjoy these moments with friends and family.

“With the World Cup right before the holidays and smack in the middle of Black Friday sales, there may be the fear that watching soccer may cut into shopping time, but I think there are ways to tie the two together and perhaps have World Cup merchandise as an in-demand holiday gift,” Fabio Sá, senior vice president of soccer at 90 min The Players’ Tribune, a part of Minute Media, told Retail Leader Pro. “I also think there'll be a multitude of soccer fans and bandwagoners stopping what they're doing to watch the U.S. games — and probably many of the other big games. With so many people having adapted to ‘work from home’ and with the majority of the games happening at either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. EST, this sounds like the perfect excuse for people to get together in front of the TV and enjoy these moments with friends and family. Not to mention that an insane number of games — 22 — will be played during Thanksgiving week, including the highlight of the group stage at least for the American fans, which is the USA vs. England game on Friday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.”

Above all else, for retailers Sá sees the World Cup 2022 as an opportunity to align with the passion and excitement of the games.

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