Sports supply and apparel companies can look forward to a potentially banner year, largely due to the World Cup. Every four years, this tournament draws interest from around the globe, with rabidly devoted fans buying jerseys, t-shirts, pants, socks, sneakers and tons of other gear in support of their favorite players and teams. This means good news for the three brands that dominate the sporting apparel industry: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
Trends in Sports Apparel
In an era where consumer behavior is shifting rapidly, the sports apparel industry seems disruption-proof. The sports industry is the second fastest growing sector in apparel, making it a major player for brands. Of course, breaking into the industry often requires a significant investment in advertising and sponsorship.The annual growth in this segment had been at a whopping 4.3 percent from 2005 to 2014, and it is expected to grow by up to 5.6 percent each year until 2020. The World Cup plays a major role in that growth. Major markets show massive increases during the years the tournament is staged.
Historical World Cup Sales Data
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, spending on soccer equipment and related apparel shot upwards. In the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, apparel sales enjoyed nearly double digit growth at nine percent. Soccer ball sales increased by 30 percent across the board. In fact, growth remains relatively stable except during World Cup years, when the soccer market takes another leap forward in popularity.
Record-Setting Sales Predicted
Even without some of the most popular contenders on the pitch, major sports apparel brand Adidas is predicting serious sales for team jerseys and t-shirts. And despite a sanction-hit host country and the lack of familiar jerseys like Italy, Netherlands and Turkey, new opportunities represented by countries that haven't made the qualifiers in decades means massive potential in other countries.
Growth in Soccer Popularity
In the U.S., even without a team in the competition, the sport's growing popularity means plenty of viewership and a new segment of die-hard fans. With a large South American population and plenty of visitors from overseas, domestic jersey sales may do surprisingly well. After all, U.S. fans are fairly new to the game and not all of them support only the home team.
Soccer Creates Dedication in its Fandom
Soccer fans don't always just support a particular team. Many are vocal in their love of the game, regardless of the players. Zito Madu, a soccer reporter, spent some time in Nigeria, marveling at the diversity of gear adorning the nation's youth. He noticed everything from Manchester United to Chelsea t-shirts. Good teams develop a fan base that extends past national boundaries.
Building on Soccer Success
With Adidas looking to sell eight million more jerseys this year than in 2014, it should come as no surprise that there is plenty of room for expansion during the 2018 World Cup. E-commerce is particularly well-positioned to take advantage of worldwide fandom. With U.S. fans supporting teams around the world, branded merchandise has a lot of potential for online ordering. Brands that build team partnerships and license official merchandise can expand into the fast growing sports apparel industry. With soccer viewership on the rise, the market is growing at a rapid rate. The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final drew more viewers than the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. As the most popular sport among children, the opportunities for soccer-related retail items is endless.
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