Cricket will always be in, in India. But making its presence felt, in a not so subtle way is football. And with the ongoing FIFA World Cup the popularity is on an exponential growth.
A recent Nielsen Global Online survey states that nearly half (47 percent) of Indians claim to be football fans. In fact India ranks tenth in its love for football globally. To add, 56 percent Indians plan to follow the game this season. The growing viewership of football is testimony to the popularity of the sport.
With the live exposure to international leagues, especially the EPL (English Premier League) has helped garner an increasing fan following among football obsessed teens. Audiences are open to watching more football as the EPL is competitive. With matches almost every weekend its an added advantage.
Ranjiv Ramchandani from Tantra, an Indian company that ventured into football apparel for the first time opines that post IPL, there has been a certain disillusionment with cricket, and football is the flavour of the month. More because football fever in India is a world cup related activity, whereas cricket is a round-the-year phenomenon.
Cashing in on the frenzy are the sportswear manufactures who are supporting the teams and are out with world cup related apparel and merchandise to woo the fans. According to retailers there has been a rise in sale of sports apparel and footwear, more is expected till the finale.
Nike is sponsoring team jerseys for Brazil, The Netherlands, USA, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia and Slovenia. Sanjay Gangopadhaya, Marketing Director, Nike India says, “There is no greater opportunity than the World Cup to amplify sport and engage with football fans around the world. Nike’s strategy is to connect with footballers’ through unique retail and online experiences.”
Nike in India retails football gear which includes cleats (football boots) such as Mercurial Vapour SuperFly II, CTR 360 and T 90 Laser III, shin guards, footballs and other football equipment, this apart, Club merchandise of several European Clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal, and Barcelona. National team jersey replicas also form part of Nike’s football merchandise, due to the rise in demand for such merchandise.
Recognising India as an emerging market for football merchandise, and with the urban youth more inclined towards the game, Tantra has come out with football as a theme for non-copyright based range of tees, which is available online and at their mall partner Hypercity.
Adidas launched its lightest football boot – F50 adiZero, weighing 165 grams. Lionel Messi was the first to wear the distinctive chameleon purple, white and electricity colourway during the FIFA World Cup. Andreas Gellner, Managing Director, adidas India comments, “Players like Lionel Messi wanted boots that would enable them to be faster. Players want to be first to the ball, so we decided to give them just that; a lightweight product which could help the players play better. We hope that this new product will assist all football enthusiasts in getting to their goal.”
Max, the value fashion chain from Landmark group, launched a limited edition of FIFA collection tshirts for the soccer frenzy populace with team elements of England, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, France and Spain. Kamakshi Kaul, Head Designer, Max says, “The FIFA World Cup mania is infective! Looking at the sports frenzy that is engulfing the sports enthusiasts, Max ideated the thought of bringing out a special collection for FIFA. It is certainly a fashion must have to celebrate the adrenaline thump of the sport!”
The merchandise is not limited just to tshirts and sports gear, Calvin Klein Underwear introduced its X Global Underwear line. Taking inspiration from the love and passion for football, the low rise trunks represent different countries in their respective flag colours along with the graphic of the country name, written at the back in its native language. So supporting the team is much more fun now!
It appears that the World Cup is not just about the participating teams, Final 16, Kaka, Messi, Perry or Ronaldo. It is about sportswear brands outwiting each other and banking on the Cup to garner consumer. Some sportswear analysts opine that the team that wins the World Cup sees a massive rise in sales of their jerseys. Hence, the fight for sponsorship and merchandise.