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    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

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    Summer of 24 promises to be the most exciting few months for sports lovers and the excitement is bound to steep in almost every Brit. This summer is not about selling snacks; it’s about selling excitement and euphoria.

    This will be a crucial summer with Wimbledon and Euros taking place, closely followed by the Olympics. Such much-awaited sporting occasions anyway present a great opportunity for boosting summer sales but this year, the events are also seeing a bit overlap from June 14 when both the Wimbledon men’s final and the Euro 2024 final take place on the same day.

    Not to forget the English cricket Test matches in July and August, which can be particularly profitable for convenience stores located near cricket grounds hosting the Test matches.

    With Brits prepping for Euros parties and Olympic fever, there’s a huge opportunity for homegrown retailers to capitalise on increased consumer spending. It is time that local stores create the right buzz keeping in line with sporting events to create to make their stores the ultimate game day destination.

    Convenience stores always experience a surge in foot traffic on game days as people buy last-minute snacks, beverages, and other quick-serve items. The mood is usually upbeat. Apart from popular purchases like snacks (chips, nuts, pop corn), beverages (beer, soft drinks, sports drinks) and prepared foods (sandwiches, pizzas, hot dogs), the excitement of the event often leads to impulse buying, boosting sales of items that may not have been on the original shopping list.

    Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), says, “With a mega summer of sports on the horizon – including Euro 2024, Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon, Olympics and Paralympics – there will be plenty of people gathering to cheer on their favourite teams and athletes from the seats of their sofa. For retailers, that means more opportunities to generate sales.

    “Soft drinks often play a key part in fans’ experiences watching sport. To tap into this opportunity, retailers should ensure they stock sharing packs from leading brands like Coca-ColaTM, the official soft drinks sponsor of UEFA EURO 2024TM, which kicks off this summer. Coca-ColaTM is currently led by Coca-Coca Zero Sugar (the fastest growing major cola brand in retail by value and volume), and Fanta and Dr Pepper, the number one and number two flavoured carbonates brands in retail by value.”

    Tash Jones, Commercial Director at Fairfields Farm, seems to agree with Burgess on the scope that these sporting events present for convenience channel.

    Jones tells Asian Trader, “The beauty of independent convenience is simply convenience. Shoppers dashing out to stock up for the game will be looking for things that might not be in the usual grocery shop, and there is a sense of urgency that independents can capitalise on by merchandising smartly and providing an array of products across snacking and drinks.

    “Within snacking, the best sellers are the ones with the most flavour impact – tortilla chips and dips, for example, or thick-cut hand cooked crisps like Fairfields Farm or Kettle Chips. Strong flavours are the important thing this summer – stock up on more chilli and meaty flavoured products in particular, but don’t forget that anywhere from 25-40 per cent of your crisps sales are likely to be lightly salted or similar.”

    Charlotte Broadbent, general manager for Faire UK (a leading online wholesaler), is equally excited and feels that this summer is set to bring a golden opportunity for independent retailers across the UK.

    She says, “The Summer of Sport’ is almost upon us – and what a summer it’s set to be. The UEFA Euros, Wimbledon and of course, the Paris 2024 Olympics are all kicking off over the next few weeks. And with them comes a golden opportunity for independent retailers across the UK.

    “With the world’s eyes on Europe, the UK is set to enjoy a substantial uptick in visitors and local celebrations. Consumer confidence and spending is also expected to rise as Brits engage in garden parties and community events.”

    Evidently, this is going to be a summer to remember.

    Munching on

    With major sports tournaments lined up, friends and family will be keen to enjoy the big events and matches together. To maximise enjoyment and bring extra flavour to sporting events, consumers will be seeking out their favourite snacks, creating a crucial opportunity for retailers to drive sales and footfall.

    Matt Collins, Sales Director at KP Snacks, says, “To capitalise on this trend and the strength of the Sharing segment, retailers should stock a range of Sharing CSN products. Worth £1.7billion, Sharing is the largest segment in CSN and is growing strongly at +11.7 per cent.

    “At KP Snacks, we are catering to the growth of sharing occasions with a diverse portfolio of tasty snacks to generate demand and drive sales. Our exciting range has something for everyone from KP Nuts, Butterkist, Penn State Pretzels and of course Tyrrells crisps.”

    Marking the fourth year in its partnership, KP Snacks is once again the Official Team Partner of The Hundred cricket tournament.

    The partnership drives brand awareness for eight popular KP Snacks brands- popchips, Butterkist, POM-BEAR, Tyrrells, KP Nuts, Hula Hoops, McCoy’s and Skips by featuring them on The Hundred team shirts and in promotional content for the tournament.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    Collins tells Asian Trader, “We are leveraging our partnership with The Hundred to encourage healthy and balanced lifestyles. Last year, we launched our community cricket pitch initiative, funding 36 permanent pitches across urban areas where The Hundred teams are based to improve access to the sport. We are continuing this programme with another 64 pitches being installed over the next two years in line with our commitment to support consumers and communities, two key pillars of our ‘People & Planet’ responsible business strategy.”

    Noteworthy here is healthier snacking is on the rise, with this segment growing +8.4 per cent as consumers remain health-conscious and the category adapts to HFSS legislation. popchips is rated as the number one ‘Better for You’ bagged snack brand in the sharing pack format. Coming in at under 100 calories per serving and with a third less fat than the market leader, popchips provides a more permissible snack without compromising on big flavour.

    Launched last year, popchips Hot & Spicy is available in 85g Sharing format, perfect for consumers who are looking for a tasty, healthier product to enjoy when watching sports.

    Exempt from HFSS legislation, Nuts offer a delicious treat whilst watching sports at home with friends. Worth £98.1m RSV and growing +6.8 per cent, the KP Nuts portfolio offers delicious flavours in a range of sharing formats and leads the category as the UK’s number one branded nut.

    KP Nuts FlavourKravers range was recently expanded with the launch of two new coated variants- Crunchy Coated Aromatic Thai Chilli and Crunchy Coated Katsu Curry. Designed to attract new shoppers to the Nuts segment, the new KP Nuts FlavourKravers products deliver innovative flavours and a satisfyingly crunchy and crispy texture.

    Popcorn is an ideal partner for such excitement. With a 35.4 per cent market share of the popcorn segment, Butterkist is the nation’s favourite popcorn. Make sure the store has it in adequate quantity.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    For shoppers looking for sweeter snacking moments, Butterkist Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate flavour toffee popcorn is the perfect product to add fun and indulgence to any summer sporting occasion.

    Additionally, there is a high demand for premium lines as consumers look to make in-home occasions feel more special, with 46 per cent of shoppers more inclined to trade up to premium food and drink options when dining at home. Tyrrells 150g Sharing bags are key products to capitalise on, offering classic and tasty flavours.

    Drinks break

    Soft drinks are the king of convenience channel, as shown by a recent report by Britvic. According to Britvic’s latest Soft Drinks Review 2024, as more shoppers turn to their local stores, this category is driving up basket size and spend, with the average number of items bought rising from 2.8 to 3. The report indicates that these consumer behavior shifts and the changing commercial climate are presenting new opportunities for convenience retailers and driving continued growth for soft drinks, which is now the most-bought impulse category in convenience, present in just over one in four baskets (26.1 per cent).

    Industry leader Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director- Wholesale at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, also agrees that this summer, Brits will be exceptionally excited and will seek drinks to both quench their thirst as well as keep them energised and active therefore apart from regular soft drinks, stores should also have a well-balanced stock of sports and energy drinks

    Gouldsmith explains to Asian Trader, “This was particularly noticeable during the heatwave of 2022, which saw an additional £65M (+13.4 per cent) spent on soft drinks compared to 2021. During this period of hotter weather, Lucozade Sport saw value growth of almost 26 per cent  and just under eight per cent  in volume growth. Sports drinks, and soft drinks as a whole, tend to see an uptick in sales throughout the summer months, so we can expect the segment to grow even further as the weather gets warmer.”

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    According to Nielsen, convenience stores benefitted the most last year when the temperatures rose and saw 5.4 per cent overall growth.

    In addition to Lucozade, SBF GB&I’s summer soft drink per excellence is Ribena, which has just unveiled a brand new on-pack promotion across its full range of formats which will give shoppers the chance to win memorable family experiences every day, including UK holiday packages and experience vouchers – as well as an additional 1000 cash prizes to reward shoppers with some summer spending money.   

    Ribena is also bouncing back onto screens this year for a second summer season after their successful return in 2023 and will be seen by 23m people, after being seen by over 13m people last summer 

    Gouldsmith points out that spikes in sports drinks sales not only correlate with temperature increases, but also from national and international events taking place throughout the year. In fact, during the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the sports drinks category experienced incredible value growth of over 37 per cent  and over 16 per cent  volume growth compared to the same period in 2022.  

    Retailers should ensure they have sharing packs from leading brands like Coca-ColaTM, the leading soft drinks brand in retail1, led by Coca-Coca Zero Sugar (the fastest growing major cola brand in retail by value and volume), along with Fanta and Dr Pepper, the number one and number two flavoured carbonates brands in retail by value. Schweppes should be a must stock too, considering it is sold in retail more than any other mixer brand.

    This summer, Brits will be exceptionally excited and will seek drinks to both quench their thirst as well as keep them energised and active. Apart from regular soft drinks, stores should also have a well-balanced stock of sports and energy drinks.

    Boost is another name to rely on with its three distinct categories within the functional drinks market – Energy Stimulation, Sports Drinks and RTD Iced Coffee.  

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    Adrian Hipkiss, Commercial Director at Boost Drinks, says, “shoppers continue to seek ready-to-drink, on-the-go, quality energy options at everyday value prices. Boost Original Energy is available in 1litre, 500ml and 250ml, and is rated first for taste among Original competitor products.

    “The range offlavour profiles and pack sizes available at Boost allows consumers to rely on us as a brand that caters to an array of consumption moments, whether on the move or stocking up to enjoy at home.”

    Boost Red Berry is the largest selling 250ml Stimulation Flavour SKU.

    Boost’s canned offering Juic’d is available in five flavours. The NPD is made with 5 per cent real fruit juice which enhances its nutritional value, flavor authenticity, perceived quality, and market appeal, meeting consumer demand for natural ingredients.

    Now more than ever, sales of 500ml cans are booming with +19 per cent growth YoY (worth £368m and 60 per cent growth in the category coming from flavoured500ml variants alone, says Hipkiss, adding that this has led to the segment currently being the fastest growing category in energy drinks.

    It’s a summer of sports after all so sport drinks are going to fly off the shelves like never before.

    Boost Sport takes pride in its strong positioning within the sports drinks category. Sitting at the forefront of the category’s growth pattern with its +41 per century value growth YOY, Boost Sport is currently number two sports drink brand in volume.

    Hipkiss says, “As consumers are increasingly turning to products that deliver on quality without compromising on price, it’s important for retailers to take into consideration the two main drivers influencing consumer purchase of sports drinks- ‘taste’ and ‘value’.

    “It’s essential that retailers stock a sports drink offering that takes the ‘taste’ and ‘value’ drivers into account to effectively maximise sales from impulse shoppers. This also offers retailers a chance to connect with their core audiences, thereby enhancing sales rates to their maximum potential.”

    Making the most of the ever-growing opportunity the Sports Drink category provides, in April 2023, Boost launched a limited-edition Raspberry & Mango variant into their isotonic sport drink range.

    Hipkiss says, “Limited edition drinks have been shown to demand consumer attention, create noise and generate excitement within the category. With creative flavour innovations such as Raspberry & Mango surging in popularity, retailers should cash in on the trend to ensure they’re maximizing on consumer demand.”

    Boost’s sport portfolio stands out with its dynamic and vibrant packaging, effectively seizing consumers’ attention and motivating them to purchase the product.

    Iced beverages continue to be a popular option for consumers as an afternoon pick-me-up or a convenient beverage that travels well when on-the-go. To successfully capitalise on the growing popularity of RTD iced coffee, retailers should look to stock value brands like Boost.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    Demand is also on the rise for drinks that incorporate natural ingredients, provenance and nutritional benefits, as consumers increasingly look for added health benefits from the products they choose. This is exemplified by the fact that Rio, with its blend of five fruit flavours and sources of vitamin C, is a top 5 ranked SKU in Fruit Carbonates.

    Big Cheers

    A football match is incomplete without some rounds of beer and cider.

    According to a recent report, Brits are estimated to drink 604.5 million pints during this summer’s 2024 Euros tournament, new research finds, with spending predicted at £2.4bn over the 33 day championship.

    While a major proportion of this spending will happen in pubs, a major chunk is also going to fall in the lap of convenience channel owing to house parties and last-minute requirements.

    Top brands like Guinness are a must-stock, as it is often associated with sporting events in general. Guinness is available in multi-packs, which are perfect for sharing and socialising occasions.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    Heineken is launching limited-edition sport packaging and glassware across its Heineken Original and 0.0 variants to celebrate the upcoming summer of sport, available to wholesale and convenience retailers now until July 2024.

    Limited-edition UEFA-themed packaging and glassware are available across all Heineken Original packs. The packaging celebrates the brand’s unique sponsorship of both the UCL and UWCL and will feature the trophies of both tournaments this spring and summer.

    This is the first time Heineken has dedicated a bottle design to women’s football, which will appear alongside the men’s UCL bottles in mixed packs, as well as across single 650ml and 330ml bottles. Also available across can formats, the limited-edition packaging features a dual-facing design of both the UCL and UWCL trophies on either side of the can, creating increased stand-out on shelf from every angle.

    In addition, also available are the limited-edition racing-themed Heineken 0.0 x F1 packs focusing on the brand’s exclusive global partnership with F1.

    The activation will be supported by in-store PoS materials designed to drive consumers to the fixture, with four exclusive glasses for consumers to collect- UCL, UWCL, F1 and Investec Champions Cup. To get their hands on the limited-edition glassware, consumers must purchase select packs of the limited-edition Heineken range from a participating outlet, and then select a sports glass of their choice to take home.

    The glassware promotions are available now across Co-op, Nisa, Bestway and One Stop as well as participating convenience stores. Limited edition bottles, cans and packs are available across all Heineken stockists in the UK.

    “We know that sport drives sales in retail as there are more people buying and spending more in the run up and during key moments in the sporting calendar,” said Alexander Wilson, Category and Commercial Director. “Heineken is the number one beer brand associated with sport in the UK – so retailers ought to capitalise on the moment and stock this in their fridge in the road to the final!

    “The Heineken x UEFA packs are sure to deliver massive stand out on shelf. The packaging, and the gift with purchase offer of commemorative glassware, alongside the chance to win finals tickets, will help drive sales of Heineken in store, tapping into those key sales moments.”

    There are some brands that are more closely associated with British sporting occasions such as Pimm’s, which is traditionally served with lemonade, mint leaves, cucumber, orange slices and strawberries and is synonymous Wimbledon.

    Shoppers will be hosting viewing parties at home so will be on the lookout to refill their home bar section. Apart from looking for suitable spirits to serve up during at-home gatherings with friends and family, shoppers will also hunt for Ready-to-drink (RTDs) range.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    Alongside spirits, it’s important to stock a good range of soft drinks and mixers, like Schweppes, the go-to mixer for home-based mixing occasions.

    With the sun shining and gatherings in full swing, consumers will be on the lookout for a whole range of refreshing alcoholic drinks to serve their guests. For a quick and easy serve, alcoholic ready to drink (ARTD) cans, like Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola RTD, which has generated nearly £27m worth of sales since its launch in March 2023, is a must stock for retailers, especially when summer is just around the corner.

    CCEP has also added its ARTD portfolio with Absolut Vodka & SPRITE, which blends the smoothness of premium vodka, Absolut, with the loved lemon-lime soft drink, SPRITE, offering yet another refreshing alcoholic serve to enjoy at home.

    Go for Gold

    With right mindset, a little innovation and the exact knowledge (like about peak hours), this summer holds a huge scope for sales for local stores.

    Indie retailers can drive linked purchases by setting up sports-themed displays ahead of major events and cross-merchandising sharing packs of popular soft drinks with snacks and nibbles. This will allow customers to find everything they need for a sports night or home gathering in one place.

    Jones from Fairfields Farm explains, “Occasion-led merchandising and events help to grow sales. If there are large sporting events or bank holidays and shoppers are in a rush – as they tend to be in convenience particularly – there should be a space for those customers to get everything they need.

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales

    “When putting together displays for those occasions, positioning popular products like drinks and snacks in one-stop locations, eliminating your shoppers’ precious thinking time, will be rewarded in rate of sale!”

    Collins from KP Snacks tells Asian Trader, “To maximise sales this summer, retailers should introduce themed displays, fixtures and promotions to entice shoppers and encourage impulse purchases, which make up 70 per cent of Bagged Snacks sales.”

    By stocking the ‘25 to Thrive’ range and positioning CSN fixtures with prominence, retailers can revive their sales, drive impulse purchases and thrive in a competitive market this summer.

    Online wholesaler Faire UK is cheering for independent retailers to go for gold this summer.

    Advising retailers to keep a track of sporting calendar, Broadbent from Faire UK, states, “By identifying peak moments, retailers can plan to create buying moments that inspire customers to reach for their wallets, and get ahead of their inventory management to ensure they are well stocked during these periods.

    “Similarly, they can also plan targeted promotions, special events, and themed point-of-sale displays in the days leading up to those events that help draw in consumers, maintain steady footfall, and incentivise purchases.

    “Finally, getting to grips with the calendar means retailers can also predict when footfall is likely to be quieter because consumers are engrossed in the latest match. This will allow them to plan opening hours or staffing accordingly.”

    Broadbent adds that indie retailers can leverage their knowledge about their clientele to stock up on a range of seasonal items that will resonate well with their shoppers.

    “And to make life easier for retailers, during major cultural events and seasons, we curate lots of themed collections on the Faire website so it’s incredibly easy for them to quickly seek out unique and timely products,” she adds.

    Retailers can also co-organise or collaborate with others to host viewing parties and other sports-related gatherings.

    Broadbent says, “Engaging directly with these community activities not only boosts sales but also strengthens customer relationships and helps cement your position within the local community.”

    Game on: Use sports euphoria this summer to drive sales
    iStock image

    Effective marketing during the Summer of Sport means tapping into the shared excitement and patriotism that these events foster.

    “Tailor your marketing campaigns to reflect the spirit of the games through timely and engaging content across all platforms – from eye-catching in-store displays to dynamic social media posts and email campaigns.

    “Highlighting how your products can enhance viewers’ experiences or celebrating national achievements can create a strong emotional connection, driving both traffic and sales – and many of our retailers are leveraging AI tools to help them quickly create and test campaigns like this,” Broadbent tells Asian Trader.

    Its Buzzing

    To support its retailers, symbol group One Stop has announced it’s 2024 summer campaign, featuring weekly stunt deals and a customer activation. One Stop’s ‘Summer of Sport’ campaign is running across all UK company and franchise stores, with summer deals now available in-store.

    The “Summer of Sport” campaign will run from now until July 23.The campaign will be backed by a full 360 marketing campaign including store takeovers with a point-of-sale suite.

    Buying group Unitas has also launched Summer of Sport Competition in which it is giving retailers a chance to win prizes worth £500 each.

    Healthy snacks wholesaler Epicurium too has officially kicked off The Summer of Sport campaign, promoting all the best brands and range for what’s set to be a huge opportunity for retail.

    The Paris Olympics are the most-anticipated major sporting event of 2024 but it is expected that it is the football’s European Championship will be more important in consumer spending terms.

    Although sports retailers have the most benefit of increased sales through officially licensed merchandise and other sportswear offerings, convenience stores also have the potential to piggyback these prestigious events and mass euphoria to help increase their brand awareness and sales.

    The Euros are known to create a positive impact in food and drink sales as it is an event that encourages people to come and watch together. The event even encourages shoppers to get involved, whether they are football fans or not. History has shown how as England progressed through the group stages in earlier world cups, sales of beer also increased.

    Data analayst Kantar is assured that major sporting events can have a big impact on grocery sales, particularly in categories like alcohol.

    Fraser McKevitt, Head of Retail and Consumer Insight, Worldpanel Division, says, “During England’s quarter final match against France in the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, take-home beer sales hit their biggest daily takings of the year outside of Christmas. Especially if it’s paired with warmer temperatures, this year’s summer of sport could deliver a welcome boost for the sector.”

    Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, resonates with the same view, saying with 45 per cent of UK households interested in the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament, this should kick start sales again.

    “Our data shows that of these, 69 per cent plan to watch the matches at home by themselves or with other household members, meaning this could be a boon for sales of drinks, snacks and food for event-driven categories, such as barbeques.”

    Clearly, retailers should establish a seamless plan to ensure a profitable summer by jazzing their store with the right stock along with a touch of sporty feel and merchandise.

    The stage is almost set. Make sure your store is ready too and let the euphoria kick in. From kickoff to the final whistle, use sports fever this summer to drive sales and make your store the talk of the town.

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