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Does The World Cup Generate World Record Sales in the US?


World Cup - World Class Sales?

If you have been living in a cave secluded from the modern world, or decided to pursue the “Facebook Challenge” and rid yourself of any technology for 99 days, you may have missed out on the excitement surrounding this year’s World Cup.

With more than 3 billion engagements on Facebook and 35.6 million tweets during the Brazil vs Germany match alone - the World Cup takes the cake as the biggest social media event to date.

Impressive, right? With crazy stats like these surrounding the huge event – one would assume retailers and manufacturers, particularly those heavily invested in World Cup advertising, would experience a natural spike in sales. The early returns look good internationally, with reports out of Europe and the Middle East that sales almost directly attributed to World Cup interest have increased 50-80 percent. We decided to do some research and see if the American interest in the World Cup was purely superficial or if we’d truly reached a point where interest was impacting buying behavior like other significant sporting events in the US can.

Retailers and manufacturers circle a couple of sporting events on their sales calendar every year; specifically The Super Bowl and the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. I do have a friend who purchased his first 60” television for the Kentucky Derby, but I think it’s safe to say he’s an outlier.

As Super Bowl fans prepare for the big game every year, TV’s are deeply discounted, and sales are on the rise. According to Fat Wallet, one in every 10 Americans purchases a TV during Super Bowl sales. So what did we see in-store during the World Cup?

It seems both the length of the tournament and the fact most games were played during the workday made it more of a distraction than a focal point. Those passionate about the event seemed more interested in gathering in bars and parks, rather than hunkering down in their home. Some went so far as to say the World Cup was more of a “distraction” than a driver of sales. We surveyed our team of US retail brand advocates about what they were seeing in stores during this exciting event, and here’s what we learned:

  • 50% of associates said the media hype surrounding the World Cup had no noticeable impact on in-store traffic.
  • 60% of associates said there wasn’t a noticeable increase in TV sales directly attributed to people wanting to improve the World Cup viewing experience.
  • 55% stated that they haven’t seen an uptick in demand/interest in 4K TV’s (a heavily advertised commodity during the World Cup) since the tournament started.

It seems that US interest in the World Cup in many ways mirrored the plight of the US National Team. While the team clattered its way through the group stage– meeting its match to a superior European club—as a country, our investment and interest relative to the rest of the world continues to lag behind. It’s tough to think things will improve for brand advertisers looking to make the World Cup a focal point in the US, as the next two World Cup cycles will be played on the other side of the world.

Brand StatsOn a more positive note, our associates did mention that there were some brands that benefited from the sheer volume of impressions generated during the month-long tournament. At the top of our list of consumer electronic associates interviewed was Sony. 65 percent of associates felt that Sony’s customer awareness and interest grew during to the World Cup. After gathering this data, we were particularly impressed by the fact that not just official sponsor’s benefited from increased awareness, but savvy brands like Nike and Samsung used the general media hype and athlete specific sponsorships to run dynamic viral campaigns. These campaigns were generic, but obviously intended to piggy-back on the World Cup, blurring the lines between sponsorship and smart marketing.