Supermarkets, it’s a kick to feed the fans

June 24, 2014

World Cup Soccer could be a food event that compares with other sports championships in the U.S.

It’s hard to miss big-screen TVs set up in public places for crowds to assemble and watch World Cup Soccer.  These are feel-good events where fans crave victories for their home teams (either USA or their native countries) and ethnic food and drink from their homelands, we believe at The Lempert Report.

In our view, World Cup Soccer can become a memorable food event – and perhaps over its span of several weeks (especially if the USA team stays in it) match up respectably against the Olympics, the World Series, NHL and NBA playoffs, NCAA March Madness, and major NASCAR events – even if it doesn’t approach the impact of the Super Bowl.

Consider that nearly 16 million viewers watched the first USA game in round one, in which the team had only slight expectations of beating Ghana (which they did 2-1).   Nielsen says 11.1 million people saw it on ESPN, and another 4.8 million on Spanish-language Univision; ESPN added that nearly a half-million watched a digital stream, reported an AP/Newsday account.  

Food-sales potential is high, since the fan base should mount with each win – and the collective viewership of other games will multiply these figures.  Supermarkets should consider the thematic possibilities of preparing and selling familiar cuisines and import beers from Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Germany and Japan for starters.

Unlike the Super Bowl, which is an evening event in the dead of winter, homegating for World Cup Soccer could last all day, morph into social visits, and be comfortable or even hot.  We see potential – and note at least one ethnic operator has already dove in:  the Mi Pueblo Food Center held a viewing party in its East Palo Alto, CA, store (see photo a Facebook link here), promoted foods and alcohol at home, and ran a tournament bracket contest.