World Cup offers revenue opportunity for e-commerce retailers


The world’s biggest sporting event has begun, presenting e-commerce sites with a major opportunity to take advantage of growing futbol fanbases across the globe. With U.S. interest in soccer steadily rising, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will once again break records for viewers and sales.

Over 1 billion people, according to FIFA, watched the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands. More than 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – watched at least part of the World Cup. With an average of almost 200 million people watching each game, the eyes of the world truly are on soccer during the tournament. Those numbers are likely to increase this year thanks to expanded TV and online coverage.

This growing soccer audience – especially in the United States — provides e-commerce sites selling sporting goods, and particularly soccer equipment, with nearly unlimited marketing potential.

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Online interest in the World Cup has been steadily rising, too, with Google searches about the tournament and other soccer-related topics booming over the last five years. According to The New York Times, much of this growth is due to young professionals with disposable income and a newfound interest in the game. These people are also likely to be able to afford new soccer equipment, marking a huge potential profit for e-commerce sites.

Jerseys, balls, cleats and hats are the top selling merchandise for soccer equipment suppliers, especially during the World Cup. Major retailers have seen huge profits from selling these goods recently, with Nike reporting $1.9 billion in soccer-related revenues in 2013 and Adidas – the official supplier of World Cup equipment – bringing in $2.4 billion.

Replica jerseys will be especially in demand during the tournament. Retailers say that the most popular teams are the USA, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Portugal, Italy, France, Spain and Argentina. In particular, jerseys of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil’s Neymar Jr. and the USA’s Clint Dempsey are the top-sellers. Fans looking to support their country will show their pride either with a jersey – an authentic shirt costs $150 when sold by FIFA while a replica jersey goes for $90 – or a replica shirt of their favorite team.

Soccer balls in the same design as the World Cup ball are also highly sought-after. With prices ranging from as much as $160 for an official ball to $40 for a replica and $13 for a mini imitation ball, e-commerce stores selling these products can cater to customers of all types.

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Another popular item during the World Cup is sets of stickers made by the Italian company Panini. Their collectable stickers include sets for each team participating in the tournament, and are traded feverishly between fans to complete their collections. The stickers have been made for every World Cup since 1970, and come in packs of seven – costing $2 each. A booklet to organize all 639 stickers in this year’s set can be bought for $5. These stickers are sold in over 100 countries, with an estimated 8 million albums sold in Brazil this year.

Watching World Cup games will also encourage many people to get out and play soccer for themselves. Soccer cleats, shorts, socks and other equipment will all see spikes in purchases this year. Cleats can cost as much as $300 for the same shoes that professionals wear, and can be as cheap as $20 for those who are just trying the game out.

A key part of any marketing strategy to reach World Cup fans must include mobile search. 63% of soccer searches came through mobile devices during recent UEFA Champions League games, up from 18% during the 2010 World Cup. This trend will likely continue during the tournament, as “second-screening” with mobile or tablet devices becomes the preferred method for fans to consume media while watching the game.

With so many eyes on Brazil this summer, e-commerce sites specialising in sporting goods have a huge opportunity to generate traffic and increase sales. By selling and listing sporting equipment – especially soccer supplies – these sites will capitalize on a growing American and global soccer audience.

Fanatics from every country will look to support their home team and favorite players as much as possible through the end of the World Cup. These supporters will largely use online searches to find merchandise to show off their rabid fandom. With over 3 billion potential fans, this is the best opportunity for e-commerce sites to sell soccer equipment.


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