Let the games begin

The summer of 2024 has the potential to go down as one of the most eventful for sports enthusiasts.

From the UEFA European Championship’s intense matches to Wimbledon’s iconic courts and the diverse showcase at the Summer Olympic games, this season promises a thrilling array of major summer sports events, captivating fans worldwide.

For many, including the food and beverage industry, these events are not just about sports; they create unforgettable moments of unity, excitement – and for the food and beverage industry, enormous opportunity.

Sport is a huge passion point for millions across the globe. Whether it’s played, watched, followed – or read about – sport is a source of entertainment, pride and debate. A KPMG study highlights the extent to which UK consumers, in particular will engage with events this summer.

As part of its Consumer Pulse survey, KPMG polled 3,000 UK consumers ahead of multiple international sports tournaments being screened this summer. In a boost to retailers, consumers surveyed said that they have made, or are planning to make, home and garden purchases related to them, friends and family enjoying the sporting action.

Of those surveyed, 7% had already bought a new TV, mobile phone or tablet, to improve their viewing experience. While 5% plan to spend on a new TV, and 8% on a phone or tablet, in order to watch along. Food and drink purchases are also set for a boost, with a fifth of people intending to buy more snacks, or branded alcohol, and one in ten saying they will purchase a BBQ and more home cook food.

Circana’s latest ‘Volume Vortex’ report, a survey of consumers across Europe, US and South Africa, outlines how firms can re-engage consumers across a wide range of age, income and gender demographics.

Themed events and informal gatherings in office environments and holiday venues, rather than major city centre hospitality locations, are expected to dominate sales of food, beverages during the summer games in Paris. This shift is driven by the high costs associated with travel, event tickets, and city-based spending.

Circana notes that brands with limited budgets should consider targeting semi-rural and holiday areas where engaged, captive audiences are located away from busy cities. This strategy could lead to better marketing returns for retailers by focusing on less competitive locations.
Circana’s survey data reveals that 56% of high-income households across the top six European grocery markets are planning to watch events at home. However, 44% of consumers say they are open to or prefer out-of-home viewing. This dual trend presents a significant opportunity for grocery retailers and manufacturers to cater to both at-home (AH) and out-of-home (OOH) consumption preferences.

Circana’s analysis shows how consumer habits are evolving even though pressures appear to have eased. Major sporting events provide light relief to forget, albeit temporarily, particularly the summer games in Paris, offer numerous opportunities and challenges for brands and retailers.

The key lies in recognising these shifts and innovatively adapting media and advertising strategies to meet new consumer demands,” Ananda Roy, senior VP of global thought leadership and strategic insights at Circana, explains.

Roy believes that by enhancing at-home experiences, rethinking delivery methods, or focusing marketing efforts on non-traditional locations like workplaces, offices, and holiday destinations instead of sports venues, “the sporting arena offers abundant opportunities” for those prepared to “innovate and take decisive action”.

Other key insights from Circana’s study include eSports and gaming, becoming areas for growth because of the advancement of consumer electronics, VR, and AI. With greater convergence between eSports and upcoming sports events, with mixed audiences, this evolving metaverse offers opportunities for targeted brand promotions, particularly in snacking, non-alcoholic beverages, and enhanced nutrition and hydration products.

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer, retail and leisure for KPMG, concludes that the latest spending upturn in TV sales is mainly related to consumers wanting to watch the action at home – with investments being made in not just TVs but also BBQs, as well as plans to buy more snacks, food, soft drink and alcohol, for home consumption. One in ten people also told us they plan to order takeaway on a match day.

Summer’s here, and the calendar is bursting with reasons to celebrate.

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