As pubs and indoor venues reopen in less than two weeks, and major sporting events get ready to kick off again this summer, new research from eBay Ads UK suggests that brands could soon expect to see a surge in sports related spending. But, with fans torn between the excitement of competition and the safety of social distancing, brands will have to consider how to connect with a wide spectrum of audiences – from live event enthusiasts to stay-at-home supporters – whether events go ahead, or not.
Home vs away
The research found that after a year of match cancellations and subdued celebrations, many sports fans are itching to once again watch sports in venues more dynamic than their living rooms. Indeed, 35% of Brits surveyed are planning to buy tickets to watch live sporting events in outdoor and/or indoor venues this summer, and over a fifth (22%) are planning to prioritise watching sports in pubs or bars as a social activity.
However, it’s clear some people are still feeling cautious, with 27% of UK consumers saying they’d like to watch sports in these types of venues, but are worried about crowds and social distancing. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that almost half (44%) of UK consumers plan to continue to watch sports at home this summer, and a quarter (25%) say they are likely to prioritise watching sports in outdoor COVID-safe settings.
Viewing parties a boon for brands
With sports fans on track to favour at home and outdoor settings, insights from eBay Ads UK suggest that shoppers could be inspired to kit out their homes and gardens to host viewing parties – providing brands with opportunities to engage with the hosts-with-the-most.
On 24th June 2018, the day England beat Panama 6-1 in the World Cup, ebay.co.uk saw an uplift in interest for outdoor and party equipment. Searches for ‘barbecue’ shot up 45% compared to the day before, as did searches for ‘garden furniture’ (increasing 41%) and ‘red cups’ (jumping 86%), in the same time frame.
And, demonstrating the opportunities for consumer electronics brands to tap into the trend for sports viewing parties this summer, two days before the 2016 Euro championship started on 8th of June 2016, searches for ‘soundbar’ jumped a massive 800% compared to the previous day, with searches for ‘TV’ and ‘projector’ rising 28% and 27% respectively in the same time frame.
Harmony Murphy, GM Advertising UK at eBay, said, “We know Brits love their sports and we are expecting sporting fever to be even greater this summer as fans make up for what they missed out on last year. In order to make the most of the season, brands should bring their A-game and consider the various ways to engage with fans, whether they’re rushing back to their team’s football ground, or hosting viewing parties at home. However, as some uncertainty still remains for this summer and with some consumers more cautious than others, it’s crucial that marketers use fresh data to tap into the nations’ sporting mindsets and engage them with the most relevant marketing. And, just in case restrictions and events change, brands should still be prepared to flex their campaigns as needed.”
The enduring influence of sports
Insights from eBay Ads UK also show how major sports events inspire fans to invest in their own sports equipment even if events are cancelled – demonstrating the potential for brands to keep on engaging with people around events, whether they go ahead or not.
In 2020, even when the majority of events were cancelled, ebay.co.uk saw a rush of interest in sports products related to specific events. On 12th July 2020, which would have been the day of the Wimbledon men’s final, searches for ‘tennis shoes’ rose 36% compared to the day before, while searches for ‘tennis net’ and ‘tennis ball’ lifted 31% and 26% respectively in the same time frame. Meanwhile, on this same date – which was also set to be the Euro 2020 final – searches for ‘Euros 2020’ rose 29% compared to the day before, and searches for ‘goal net’ also jumped a whopping 131%.