Amplience: retailers hope to win big as World Cup madness engulfs UK


Making it to the semi-finals of the World Cup hasn’t just made winners out of the England team. Retailers too are cashing in on the astronomic rise in national pride, with official partners being top of the pile. While some high street brands are struggling to keep customers engaged even in the free-spending summer months, retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis are looking to strike gold by pushing World Cup-related promotions and products. But as the whole country works itself into an eating, drinking, partying frenzy can retailers avoid losing their heads (and potential profits)?

One of the key challenges of any World Cup campaign is that the beautiful game can be unpredictable. In a tournament where anything could happen, retailers need to be prepared for any result – including the possibility of an England win and the opportunity that goes with it. With a solution that harmonises product suggestions and content personalisation, retailers are now able to respond to even the biggest shocks of any match with a customer journey tailored to the situation.

Following a 35% increase in waistcoat sales during the quarter finals, the official tailor Marks & Spencer has actioned their #luckywaistcoat campaign. ‘Waistcoat Wednesday’ is expected to capitalise on the Gareth Southgate effect and the semi-final against Croatia to the tune of millions. Retailers must strike while the iron is hot and be able to generate content for promotions that means priority stock can be offered to consumers while the opportunity exists.

With England already into the semi-finals, placing their bets on an average result has done damage to retailers. However, the majority have been able to prolong or modify their campaigns to keep riding on the national high. Having multiple streams of content prepared to respond to any score or elimination is vital to tapping into the spirit of the game. Whether it is to celebrate or commiserate with them, brands should aim to be engaging with their football-mad customers in the heat of the moment, not after the fact.

It’s not just the speed of the game that retailers are up against, but the changing moods and impulse decisions of customers. Adopting good content strategies allows retailers to prepare contingency plans and multiple campaigns far in advance. The chance to generate a variety of possible outcomes means retailers can tap into more and more specific occurrences. Sportswear brands such as Arsenal have moved on from promoting England kits on match day, to putting the shirt of their best performing World Cup player centre stage in the immediate match aftermath.

But all this is lost if retailers don’t know where to find their customers in these key moments. Waistcoat Wednesday provides a good example of reaching out to target customers with its integration of social media hashtags and dedicated website page with traffic driven through bespoke content on the homepage. The integration and consistency across social and web channels forms a smooth customer journey that helps customers flow from Instagram inspiration to fast fashion purchase.

Automation also allows retailers to generate this content, which fits seamlessly into all the channels and formats where they find their customers, from social channels to website and mobile to desktop. The rise of omnichannel customers ups the pressure for retailers to integrate their content campaigns to give customers a consistent and seamless experience at every touchpoint with a brand.

Aside from the challenge of making omnichannel content consistent, brands also need to be able to effectively communicate when the playing field is a screen only 5” wide. Whether on the sofa during halftime or at a post-match BBQ, consumers are even more reliant on their mobile devices to browse and purchase items. This is further compounded by the increase in demand of seasonal items for which customers are less likely to be familiar with the range of products available.

The pressure is on for retailers to provide product information as clearly and succinctly as possible – no fan wants to miss a goal because they were scrolling aimlessly and frustratingly through product information, trying to ascertain pack size, quantity or product variant. By providing clear and visual product information suitable for the mobile shopping experience, retailers and brands can ensure that a customer purchases the right product every time, and quickly satisfies their particular shopping mission.

Leveraging these opportunities is key to capitalising on the free spending habits brought about by the nation’s jubilant mood – but we must not forget that it could all end too soon if Croatia are on their game this Wednesday. But while the unpredictability of the game might be its greatest appeal, this should not extend to the production and distribution of content. Brands need to think strategically in advance before activating their match day game plan – or they risk being dumped out of the competition. Content is like football: Preparation is key – it’s now time to deliver!