Lessons to be learnt from the World Cup

They think it’s all over. It is now. As South Africa waves goodbye to the sea of supporters who flooded its shores, the question is: what legacy the World Cup will have.

From a political and social point of view, channelling its energy into turning around the nation’s deep-seated problems, as it committed to do when it won the hosting bid, will be the true measure of success. But, closer to home, what about the legacy to our industry? England’s disastrous outing made you wonder whether its presence was worth the cost of the airfares, and certainly our early exit didn’t do the trade any favours. The combined effect of an electric Wimbledon tennis tournament and a blast of hot weather, that sparked barbecues around the country, probably did more to kick-start the summer.

Early figures for grocers show a slight spike during the World Cup, but nothing like the peak everyone was banking on. Hopefully, independents fared better by exploiting their ability to sell chilled beer and their relative convenience. As the dust settles and cut-price St George’s Cross flags disappear from shelves, the trade can draw on the South African experience to ensure we take full advantage of our own turn in the spotlight in 2012.

As official beer of the Olympics – as it was for the World Cup – Budweiser is already constructing its game plan to maximise its sponsorship, mindful of the potential sensitivities around promoting beer with athletics, which presents more of a cultural clash than aligning beer to football. The approach it devises is more likely to focus on funding sports in the community and backing initiatives to enhance London’s transport links. Retailers may well consider going down similar routes or pledging a percentage of sales to aid grassroot sports.

Beyond the community and social responsibility aspect, the World Cup has also highlighted the need for much tighter planning by retailers to consider – and commit – to promotions. This doesn’t have to be all about price, either – the various government reviews make long-term planning on this tough. Creative thinking about responsible ways to create a connection with the Olympics and generate a genuine buzz are what we can learn from the palpable excitement of South Africa. Two years may seem like a long way off, but the Olympics will be the biggest economic boost of the decade. We can’t afford to miss out.

Rioja festival struck the perfect balance?Congratulations to Wines from Rioja for yet another slick event with its Tapas Fantasticas food and wine festival on London’s Southbank. It managed to achieve a relaxed environment for consumers to sample wine and chat with producers – a far cry from the usual bun fights at too many consumer shows.

Because of its high distribution, Rioja has an advantage over some areas as it is capable of behaving more like a brand than a single region. That aside, this annual fiesta-style experience remains a breath of fresh air. Judging by the number of generics?I saw soaking up the atmosphere, let’s hope others are preparing to wow in similar fashion.