What consumers are planning for the World Cup and how brands can reach them

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With the World Cup kicking off in less than two weeks, is your brand ready for the world’s biggest sporting event since the 2012 Olympic Games?

It is estimated that fans visiting Brazil will spend £6.6bn – more than 20 times what they spent in South Africa four years ago. But brands in the UK can look forward to a boost too, according to a survey of 1,300 adults by online research company fast.MAP. It finds that 41 per cent intend to buy more drinks; for food, the figure is 28 per cent.

Percentage of people watching the world cup in a pub

When England vs Italy kicks off on 14 June at 11pm BST, 56 per cent say they will be watching in their own homes. Only 4 per cent plan to do so in the pub. The stay-at-home figure is highest for ‘football addicts’ (65 per cent), and lowest for those who are interested solely in England matches (49 per cent). Just over a fifth (21 per cent) say they will not watch it at all.

Percentage of people watching England's first world cup game

However, Rachel Archer – brand manager for I Heart Wines, part of wine distributor Copestick Murray – expects more fans to be cheering England on from the pub than from their homes.

I Heart recently launched I Heart Brasil, a sparkling Moscato, and expects a great uplift in sales as the tournament approaches, encouraged by its presence at World Cup screenings and in Greene King pubs. 

The range – which has sold 4 million bottles since its launch in 2012 – is also working with promotional body Wines of Brasil for consumers to win a trip to the country.

When it comes to refreshments, 38 per cent say they will prepare food and drink for before and during the matches if they are with their families at home. Another 59 per cent say they won’t dish up any more than usual.

Types of food and drink bought during the world cup

Pizza is likely to be one of the more popular choices, with Domino’s expecting to sell nearly 6 million during June and July. According to the survey, 49 per cent say they are more likely to buy pizza than usual during the World Cup. It will launch a range of Brazil-inspired ‘Carnivale’ pizzas this month as well as an advertising campaign with agency Iris.

As a nation, we are relatively pessimistic about England’s chances. While 33 per cent think the team will make it as far as the semi-finals, only 5 per cent say it will win the tournament.

Overall, a quarter of viewers will switch off the TV if and when the England team are knocked out, and 43 per cent will watch whatever happens.

Watching the world cup if your team is out

“Those planning UK campaigns might be wise to capitalise on early England matches, when 75 per cent plan to buy extra crisps, snacks and drinks to consume while viewing,” says fast.MAP managing director David Cole.

Archer thinks Brits will stay tuned, even though England’s chances are poor. “As a nation we are all fairly realistic about our football team and it has been a long time since we won the World Cup.

“However, we are a nation of football lovers, so if England does go out, just because we are not playing does not mean people will be turning off their TVs or watching something else. It will capture the nation,” she says.

The survey also suggests that football addicts are likely to spend more: 68 per cent say they will increase their beer budget, compared with 45 per cent of those interested purely in England.

The biggest fans will also up their spend on fizzy drinks, barbecue meat and takeaways. Pepsi has been pushing its football activity hard since January , drawing on stars such as Timbaland and Rita Ora for its 11-track album Pepsi Beats of the Beautiful Game.

The centrepiece of Fifa partner Coca-Cola’s activities is the two-minute film One World, One Game , as the brand focuses on ‘championing the power of football to bring people together’ in what it says is its biggest marketing campaign to date.

Budweiser, the World Cup’s beer sponsor for more than 25 years, is also focusing on the game as a social stimulant, launching its ‘Rise As One’ theme in March.

“Meat and beer brands could benefit from tight targeting of football fanatics as the best way of increasing sales,” says fast.MAP’s Cole, “because the keener the football fan, the more likely he or she is to buy these for World Cup games. Male fans under the age of 34 are the most likely to try promoted brands. Altogether, 15 per cent are planning barbecues.”

It seems that World Cup viewers are also highly likely to be tempted by in-store promotions, with 71 per cent saying they will take advantage of offers from brands they wouldn’t normally use.

Product promotions during the world cup

Lucozade has been running an on-pack offer giving people the chance to win one of 60 pairs of football boots designed by England midfielder Steven Gerrard. Lucozade Ribena Suntory category director Georgina Thomas says: “It is a great time for us to drive active participation and educate consumers while they are engaged with the football tournament.”

Younger people are particularly keen on deals: 79 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds are interested in them, versus just over half of over-55s. Football addicts are also likely to be swayed by promotions, as are men in general. 

Many of those who don’t like football will still be watching TV, especially if they’re over 55. Eighty-two per cent of this age group say they will change channels; 42 per cent plan to buy more books.

Non-fans under 35 are the most likely of any group to eat out during the tournament, with just over a fifth saying they will do so. They are also likely to go to the cinema and to buy more box sets during June and July.

Whether or not England does well in the world’s biggest sporting tournament, it looks as if brands can score with fans.

Tactics to avoid the world cup

Non-fans under 35 are the most likely of any group to eat out during the tournament, with just over a fifth saying they will do so. They are also likely to go to the cinema and to buy more box sets during June and July.

Whether or not England does well in the world’s biggest sporting tournament, it looks as if brands can score regardless.

Rachel Archer

Rachel Archer

Brand manager, I Heart, Copestick Murray

The idea for I Heart Wines was inspired by consumers: when you talk to them about which wines they enjoy they say ‘I love Chardonnay’ or ‘I love Merlot’, they don’t say they love Australian Chardonnay or Chilean Merlot. It is very much focused on the grape variety. [We launched] I Heart Brasil this year, a sparkling Moscato, and that will be our focus for the summer. It was a great time to try something new with the brand.

We’ll be present at some inner-city World Cup screenings in London and in Greene King pubs.

I’m surprised only 4 per cent say they’ll go to the pub to watch England’s first match – it’s a real event. People who say they’re staying at home (56 per cent) may be having friends round for a barbeque or a party.

Sarah McGhie

Sarah McGhie

Head of PR, Domino’s UK

The results echo the research we’ve had. Seeing that 56 per cent plan to stay at home to watch [England’s first match] is a thumbs-up for us.

We will be doing some targeted activity around football and the times of day that the matches are on. We’re optimistic, regardless of when England may exit. 

It’s the kind of time Domino’s excels – when friends or family get together to watch.

During events such as the Olympic Games, we tend to get three times greater sales than usual.

Summer is the quieter time for pizza [sales]. This gives us a reason to go and talk to people, although we have to be careful as we are not an official partner. What [our agency] Iris has been developing can exist outside the World Cup too.

They think it’s all over the twittersphere

When it comes to relevance on social media, brands that are closely linked to football – though not necessarily World Cup sponsors – score highly.

Looking at a community of 250,000 football fans globally, social analyst PeerIndex finds that Capital One, Allianz and Sky are the brands most likely to be mentioned.

The relevance scores below show how many times more likely a fan in its community is likely to mention a brand compared to the average Twitter user.

  • Fans are 140 times more likely to mention Capital One (sponsor of the Football League Cup ) than average, and 120 times more likely to mention insurer Allianz, which backs Ireland’s National Football League.
  • Sky and Barclays achieve a relevance score of 110, with Spanish insurer BBVA – sponsor of Spain’s Liga – following at 79.
  • Aviva is 54 times more likely to be mentioned on Twitter by football fans, probably as a result of its Norwich City FC sponsorship and its naming rights for Ireland’s national stadium, which opened in Dublin in 2010.
  • Adidas is seen as much more linked to football than Nike is, with the brands scoring 43 and 24 respectively.


Online research company fast.MAP asked a representative panel of 1,300 adults about their viewing and buying plans during World Cup matches. Topics included avoidance tactics, whether people will watch other matches if their team gets knocked out and their propensity to buy products on promotion.

Click here to visit the dedicated Marketing Week World Cup Brazil homepage.


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