The business of the Euros: How brands can capitalise on a summer of sport

As fans show their support in Uefa Euro 2016 and the Rio Olympics this summer, it’s a great time for brands to consider how best to engage consumers, as HRG's Emma Dicks explains.

The business of the Euros: How brands can capitalise on a summer of sport

As fans show their support in Uefa Euro 2016 and the Rio Olympics this summer, it’s a great time for brands to consider how best to engage consumers and increase spend.

While sports retailers may have a tactical advantage with officially licensed merchandise and sportswear, supermarkets and more ‘on-the-go’ retail units such as petrol stations also have a huge role to play in maximising awareness of the events.

During a summer of sport of this magnitude, retailers should be actively seeking to work with brands to ensure their messages are displayed in a manner that appeals to their customers’ aspirations and values. To put into context the enormity of Euro 2016 and potential opportunities available to brands, Uefa anticipates a total audience for this year’s tournament to be around 1.9 billion worldwide. While not all of this share will translate to retail engagement, it does represent the huge scale of interest a sporting tournament attracts. In 2014, the sale of athletics and sports footwear products in the USA amounted to US$20.57 billion – a figure that continues to rise year-on-year.

In considering some of the products most likely to engage consumers this summer, there is a certain element of ‘en masse’ that all outfits from convenience stores to your local off-licence can cater for. Fun novelty items such as teddy-bear mascots and flags can be utilised front and centre of stores to immediately grab consumers’ attention, while strategically placing products near checkout tills can also encourage ‘impulse’ purchases.

One of the biggest trends that both retailers and brands can get on board with this summer is the ‘athleisure’ market. Born out of a health and fitness-conscious ‘millennial’ generation, this casual sports apparel trend is predicted to grow by 30 per cent, adding UK£59 billion in sales by 2020. Focused on inclusion rather than exclusion, athleisure recognises that sport is no longer simply for athletes – that to accommodate our increasingly busy lifestyles, more comfortable ‘all-day’ wear is required.

In considering this in relation to Euro 2016, it means that fashion-conscious retailers such as H&M and even Selfridges are able to get on board with a summer of sport. At the start of the year, H&M targeted their offerings at Warsaw urbanites with a fitness pop-up to burn calories and earn discounts towards its January athleisure range, while Selfridges opened a ‘Body Studio’ in April with a number of sportswear brands. Putting these offerings at the centre of the stores promotions this summer is the ideal way to drive sales.

Boosting customer engagement at times of major sporting tournaments can sometimes be a case of brands reminding us we are all ‘part of something’. For the Ryder Cup in 2014, HRG was tasked by Famous Grouse to create an ‘experiential’ stand design that gave customers their own taste of success as a Ryder Cup winner. Utilising green screen and golfing props, customers could take away their very own winners photo along with a personalised bottle label to ensure they would truly share the brand’s motto – ‘Be Part of Something Famous’.

Incentives such as the one utilised by Famous Grouse is an example of how the impulse buy can be encouraged during sporting competitions, a hallmark of these tournaments since they can have a relatively short shelf-life.

Depending on both the length of the tournament and how far your supported nation or individual progresses, the chance to maximise profits can either be cut short or extended. It is therefore vital that retailers and brands work together to ensure that products are sufficiently stocked and promoted this summer, whilst also bearing in mind the quick turnaround times that can be needed to assemble and disassemble sports-themed stand designs.

While some smaller outfits such as convenience stores are limited by strict licensing laws for official sporting products this summer, through the clever use of stand design and retail space, even the smallest of chains can increase their profits.

Trends such as athleisure evoke a feeling of inclusion and availability to the everyday consumer, which can be utilised by all outfits from your local supermarket to big name sports retailers. By tapping into the psychology of customers looking to support their country in major sporting tournaments, brands can create a pattern of engagement that will lay the groundwork for maximising sales for years to come.

Emma Dicks is the communications director for HRG.