How to win the World Cup - without spoiling Christmas

Jo Arnold, Senior Business Development Manager

On November 20th, the 22nd FIFA World Cup will kick off at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium. As always, the tournament - and the run-up to it - will present a major sales opportunity for CPG brands. Those with interests in alcohol, soft drinks, snacking, and party food are likely to enjoy a spike in sales, particularly in countries that enjoy a solid run across the competition.

This year’s World Cup will also be like no other, of course. To combat Qatar’s extreme temperatures, the tournament will be held in the northern hemisphere’s winter for the very first time. More specifically, with the final set for December 18th, the contest will come to a head just as shoppers in many countries will be making their final preparations for Christmas.

While some suggest that the two events may ultimately counteract each other in terms of consumer spending, retailers and brands need to plan for this unique situation nonetheless. The operational and logistical challenges that go hand-in-hand with these events in isolation will only be amplified due to their close proximity this time around.

As well as the added complexity of the two events running into each other, there’s also the inherently unpredictable nature of a World Cup competition as a whole. Even in “normal” circumstances, it can be difficult to plan around a sports tournament with any degree of accuracy; a good run for a national squad can see demand continue to spike, while a disastrous start might see interest wane within the very first week.

The stakes are higher than usual, too. The wrong decisions with regard to availability and promotions here won’t just hamper a brand’s performance during the World Cup, but have the potential to impact on their Christmas sales too. The holiday comes with its own set of challenges, some of which we addressed just recently, and tackling them can have a critical impact on seasonal success.

Considering that analysis suggests that 85% of consumers will switch to a competing product if their first choice isn’t available, it is critical to have the right volume of product in the right place at the point that people are doing their final shopping for the holidays¹. Loyalty is likely to be even lower when shoppers are focused on stocking up before the festivities begin.

With all of this in mind, I believe that there are three interlinking actions that will be of benefit to just about every brand over the next few months.

1. Get deep into your data on a day-to-day basis

CPGs have access to a lot of free data from their retail partners. At the same time, much of that information is retrospective, running weeks (and even months) behind what’s actually happening in the field. Making decisions based on dated insights is ineffective at the best of times, but could be actively damaging with the situation above in mind - particularly in terms of over- and under-supply.

As a result, it will be more important than ever to have an up-to-the-moment view of your flow of goods, enabling you to intervene as soon as possible in the event that something goes awry.

2. Maximise the effectiveness of promotions

With all of the above said, let’s not forget that the next quarter could offer a literally unprecedented sales opportunity. Maximising your promotional effectiveness during this time should be a priority, as should the identification and resolution of any issues with your overarching strategy.

As with the point above, a granular, near-real-time view of the retail environment will be essential - giving you confidence that your promotions are running as they should be, and the ability to step in when they’re not.

3. Ensuring that field teams can deliver the greatest impact 

Christmas is a time when field teams tend to get very hands-on with merchandise, doing everything they can to see that as much stock is on the shop floor as possible. Focusing their efforts effectively, though, also means understanding where products are unavailable, stock is running low, and where stores aren’t selling through.

That’s not just important from the perspective of maximising sales, either. It’s also essential in helping to minimise the risk of wastage during the post-Christmas lull.


In addition to the three points above, there’s also the issue of long-term analysis to consider. The back-to-back nature of these two events means that forecasting for Christmas in 2023 could be far more complex, the two blurring into one when it comes to product performance. Splitting the contribution that each event makes to your sales performance will be crucial in terms of future demand planning.

As much as there is to think about over the next few months, there’s also a phenomenal opportunity ahead. With the right approach to planning - and the right tools behind you - it should be a truly golden moment for your sales.

Please get in touch if you want to know more about how SKUtrak can help maximise sales during the upcoming festive period.

¹Plugging Out-of-Stock Gaps in Consumer Goods - EKN + Microsoft

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