World Cup Surprises Challenge Top Brands’ Retail Strategies

Adidas and Nike swiftly adapt to unpredictable retail demands amid a groundbreaking Women’s World Cup tournament.

The current Women’s World Cup has thrown a curveball for global marketing giants like Adidas and Nike. With the unexpected elimination of the US team and a guaranteed first-time champion, these brands are compelled to adjust to the evolving consumer demands and preferences rapidly.

Hosted by Australia and New Zealand, this tournament is poised to be among the most viewed standalone women’s sports events. Despite time zone challenges for European and American viewers, FIFA predicts an audience of roughly two billion.

Brands such as Adidas, Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Fanatics have heavily invested in merchandise. Sponsorship figures have soared to $349 million from $342 million in 2019, as per GlobalData, with brands prominently promoting women’s empowerment themes.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, showcasing 76 products associated with the 2023 US Women’s National Team on its online platform, is now offering over two-thirds of these items at discounts ranging from 25% to 35%.

Nike’s promotional endeavors for the World Cup involved star-studded campaigns, featuring football icons like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Grace Geyoro, and Asisat Oshoala. Additionally, a unique collaboration with designer Martine Rose, sported by the United States Women’s National Team, witnessed rapid sales, with most pieces now sold out on the designer’s website.

However, the overall performance of Nike’s World Cup merchandise has been slower than previous tournaments. Only 8% of their women’s team products have sold out during this edition, a decline from the 13% seen in 2019. On the other hand, Adidas witnessed a rise, with 21% of its women’s team products selling out, compared to 8% in 2019.

Highlighting the allure of women’s soccer, Yvonne Henderson, CEO of the Women In Football association, noted the distinct and rapidly growing fanbase. However, brands must tread carefully, ensuring their support doesn’t come off as insincere. Both Nike and Adidas faced criticism for specific product omissions, with industry experts labeling such oversights as part of a broader “learning curve”.

Brands like French telecom company Orange and Adobe have created campaigns to highlight women’s soccer’s unique appeal and skills. In line with the increasing enthusiasm for the sport, Fanatics reported an 80% surge in women’s soccer product sales in the lead-up to this year’s tournament, compared to figures from the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

However, strategies have been modified with unexpected tournament developments, like the early US team exit. Fanatics’ top-seller in FIFA World Cup Gear is the generic Adidas Women’s World Cup soccer ball.