NOT that football aficionados need reminding, but those with a more passing interest in the beautiful game might be temporarily caught off guard on Thursday when the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo with hosts Brazil taking on Croatia.
Scotland won’t be at the tournament – it’s 16 years and counting since the national team qualified – but that’s not to say there won’t be interest in the goings-on in South America. Along with the Olympics, this is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, with 910 million people tuning in to the final in 2010.
As with tournaments past, this World Cup will bend and shape consumer behaviour during the coming weeks.
Fans will boost overall leisure spending in many foreseeable ways as normal work and family life takes a back seat to a surfeit of televised football. Many will invite friends around, turning these matches into a party that will naturally have to be fuelled with food and drink.
So up will go sales of takeaways, snacks and food for the barbecue, as well as both soft and alcoholic drinks. Expect also a spike in protein bars, energy drinks and dietary supplements, which will be required to offset the excesses of all this fun.
Other usual suspects set to benefit are betting shops and pubs. Fans who choose to go out to their local for a bit of the “carnival” atmosphere will give on-trade sales a much-needed short-term boost.
Who won’t benefit from this footballing fete? Well, full-service and casual dining restaurants are likely to struggle, while cinemas have always suffered in the face of major televised events.
So far, so predictable, but scratch a bit further beneath the surface and some fundamental shifts in the landscape begin to emerge.
Changes in projection technology have made it possible for cinemas to expand beyond their traditional remit of showing films. Many now have a mixed offering of live performances and competitions, including World Cup matches.
Meanwhile, market researchers at Euromonitor International expect the online element of global sporting events to deepen with this year’s World Cup.
With smartphones and 4G internet becoming more ubiquitous, the so-called “dual-screen” experience will be in increasing demand. Not content to just watch the match on television, fans will also have a second device to hand so they can chat to their friends through the likes of Whatsapp or Facebook about what they’re seeing on TV.
Euromonitor is predicting that use of some of these social media platforms could reach record levels around big match times. Meanwhile, services such as Instagram and Vine will be flooded with photos and videos from the World Cup.
If anything, Scottish businesses should take this World Cup as an opportunity for a bit of a “warm-up” ahead of other major events being held here this year.
The circumstances of the Commonwealth Games or Ryder Cup will be somewhat different, but the impact on consumer behaviour will probably be much the same. «