Small Business Column: Retailers need to get sports savvy to cash in on the action

Kehlan Kirwan looks at the close relationship between sports and business as a long summer of sport kicks off and advises retailers to get savvy and cash in on the action.

The relationship between sports and business has been a long one, particularly in the 20th century, which saw sports sponsorship and influence sky rocket. Today sporting events give businesses the ability to cash in on the popularity and prestige of a global industry. Fifa, football’s governing body, is rivalled perhaps only by the NFL in the United States when it comes to merchandise and sales.

But where there is big sports there is big opportunities. This summer sees the World Cup and the GAA Championship go head to head in the battle for consumers cash’. A recent survey from Webloyalty showed a boost for Irish retailers with snacks (19%), pizza and other fast food items (18%) topping the list of intended purchases this summer. Plus nearly half the country at some point will watch the World Cup, according to the report. Of course those statistics would have been vastly increased had Ireland actually gotten to the World Cup. The GAA championships holds a sports bonanza for savvy retailers in Ireland as well. Every year, and I unashamedly admit this, GAA-related items spawn themselves in my house. I’m a sucker for tat. But more than anything I’m a fan, and that means I’m always looking for something interesting to decorate my office, house or car with. It’s a perfect example of where opportunities lie for businesses and what clever marketing can bring to your business.

On last week’s Small Business Show on we discussed how marketing towards men is looking for a change. The impressions from advertising is that men are thoughtless buffoons who are dimwitted (insert joke here). However, there are a number of surveys which suggest that there is opportunity to be had from marketing products in a clever way which relates to men rather than belittles them. Opportunity exists on the other side of the spectrum too.

We consistently target sporting events to men, however women in sports is now just as important. It is a market that has yet to be targeted to its full potential and holds a huge opportunity for those who wish to market outside old stereotypes. It’s all about maximising the size of the market and stereotypes are just bad business these days.

Sports, when marketed right, holds great opportunities for the retail industry here. Recently retailers have expressed a sense of being able to breathe again as people return, albeit slowly, to high streets and shopping. This new confidence within the consumer has added a sense of optimism to retailers and big summer sporting events are extra opportunities which don’t come around all the time.

So I will be out this summer with cheesy bunting, county car flags and tokenistic World Cup merchandise. But I’ll buy from someone who targets me, not the man.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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