A chance to score well

Unless you’ve been on the moon you’ll be aware there’s a World Cup on the way. Another summer of English hysteria and misplaced optimism will be upon us before we know it.

For off-licences, it holds the prospect of increased beer sales, and with the tournament taking place in South Africa, one of the fastest-growing nations for UK wine sales, there’s a chance to cash in on wine as well as beer, the traditional driver of football-related drink sales.

Generic body Wines of South Africa is running a programme of promotions for export markets including a football-themed Let’s Celebrate logo to appear on bottles and marketing materials.

Individual brands are stoking up the football marketing machine too. The Company of Wine People and Percy Fox are running a promotion that will put branded Arniston Bay footballs in six-bottle cases of wine in cash and carries.

There will also be pallet wraps and shelf-talkers, plus a consumer promotion in Musgrave Group convenience stores to win a beach holiday in South Africa.

“Historically, these tournaments tend to be dominated by the big beer brands which have large budgets to play with and command more features in store,” says Barney Davis, brand and business development manager for the Company of Wine People.

“But we feel there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for South Africa and wine to benefit from the fact the World Cup is taking place in the country.

“Watching it tends to be a really sociable event for people getting together with friends. Even though football is male-dominated, for big tournaments and games there tend to be more mixed groups, so people will be going along to stores to pick up wine as well as beer.

“We want to see retailers add space and features to persuade people that when they do, they should pick up South African wine.”?Davis adds that Arniston Bay will be on price promotion in multiples during the summer. “We’ll also be carrying the generic Wines of South Africa message on all packs across all channels,” he says.

Brands in other categories are also trying to muscle in on the beer monopoly on big football events. Beverage Brands wants a seat at the table for its WKD and is running an off-trade promotion giving fans the chance to win a share in a £500,000 cash prize.

Each 10 and 12-pack of WKD Blue will also contain an Armchair Army Guide to the World Cup and voucher for £2-off next purchase. The brand will be backed by national TV ads before and during the tournament, and there are in-store posters which can be customised to suit individual stores’ promotions.

Beverage Brands marketing director Debs Carter says RTD sales grew by 21% in the first week of the 2006 World Cup.

Carter says having a range of pack sizes and keeping chillers well stocked are key to driving RTD sales during big sporting events. “WKD consumers aren’t ones to plan their shopping in advance,” she says.

“Given their approach to organisation, they are just the types to use the convenience of off-licences and it’s essential retailers keep sufficient stocks of chilled product over the peak World Cup period. It’s not just about availability, it’s about chilled availability.” She adds: “We know from consumer research that 58% of all WKD 27.5cl four-pack purchase occasions and 45% of 70cl bottle purchases are bought for entertaining friends at home.

“This highlights the importance of offering the right pack range for the forthcoming tournament.” While other categories deserve a look-in on the huge football occasion, it’s still an area that the big lager brands score highly in – not least because two of them have official sponsorship connections.

Budweiser is the beer sponsor of the tournament through world governing body FIFA, while Carlsberg is the England team sponsor as part of its links with the English Football Association.

The deals put both brands in poll position to maximise sales opportunities through marketing and promotions.

Budweiser is keeping details of its activity under wraps for now. James Watson, brand director at A-B Inbev UK, says: “As the only beer in the UK that is an official FIFA World Cup sponsor, Budweiser has historically outperformed competitors in terms of growth during the tournament.

“Over the next few months, Budweiser will be using its official sponsorship to activate on-pack promotion across the majority of packs which will also link to our advertising and online activity.”?There’s more to come there then, but Carlsberg has already outlined a package that includes a promotional bus tour, an on-pack offer giving four winners the chance to see an England training session and TV, press and radio ads.

David Scott, director of customer marketing, has said the tournament effectively means “having two Christmases in one year” for the off-trade.

It’s an apt comparison and one that retailers of all sizes ignore at their peril.