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Winning with a Winter of Football

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The 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup will be the first time the tournament will take place during the winter months and will be the first World Cup held in the Middle East. 

The decision to hold the World Cup in the winter months offers more comfortable playing settings for the team, but it also provides an opportunity for the UK hospitality industry to increase sales during the colder months – particularly needed following the last few years of cancelled Christmases. The first game is kicking off on the 21st November and the tournament will run until the final on the 18th December. Venues can capitalise on customers excitement for the games as well as the excitement in the build up to Christmas.

45% of consumers are excited for the men’s football World Cup.  

So far this year, consumers have prioritised special occasions, going out for conversation, connection and memorable experiences. The World Cup provides the perfect opportunity for consumers to have fun and enjoy the occasion.  PROOF Insight’s Christmas 2022 On-Trade Outlook report gives us a glimpse of what operators might expect from the winter World Cup. Let's look at what venues can expect over the season and stay ahead of the trends to ensure a profitable trading period throughout the World Cup and into Christmas. 

A Winning Team  

 28% of consumers say they like the atmosphere of a pub when watching football, growing to nearly half (46%) of 18-44-year-olds saying that they enjoy it.  Match this with the right line-up of products and serves on your bar and you’ll be winning all season.  

Lager dominates 

As you might expect, beer is the most popular drinks choice during major sport tournaments. The Men’s Euro 2020 saw 54% of watchers choose beer as their first drink, rising to 68% for males. And 56% of those who chose beer as their first drink opted for lager, with 97% sticking to lager after having it as their first drink.  

Premium world lager has seen the most growth in the beer category over 2022, and this combined with lager being the most popular beverage during sporting events means that the industry can expect to serve lots of pints over the winter season. 

  • Budweiser  

The official beer sponsor of the men’s FIFA World Cup for over 35 years now, the 2022 event is set to be Budweiser’s tenth World Cup! For those who aren’t familiar with it, this American-style lager is medium-bodied, flavourful and is craft brewed with a blend of premium hop varieties. Having Budweiser on your World Cup drinks line-up is sure to be a hit with fans and make them feel more like they’re a part of the crowd in the stadium while drinking the official beer of the match in your venue. 

  • Stella Artois  

Stella Artois was first brewed as a Christmas beer in leuven. It was named Stella from the star of Christmas, and Artois after Sebastian Artois, founder of the brewery.  We think it’s a perfect addition to add to venues’ World Cup line-ups and plays into the sense of national pride as a perfect beer to showcase when France plays their matches. 

  • Camden Hells  

Brewed by Camden Town Brewery, we think Camden Hells Lager will definitely be a hit for football lovers, particularly on match-days where England are playing. Taste-wise the lager is classic, crisp and refreshing – a perfect no-fuss drink that customers are sure to love. 

  • Guinness  

A classic winter staple, Guinness is one of the world’s best-loved beers and is perfect for those customers looking for a drink that’s a little heartier than a lager. 

Other Winners  

 The World Cup attracts more female audiences than the Euros – 34% of women are interested in World Cups, compared to 21% for Euros. Venues that can demonstrate that they can provide a buzzing atmosphere for the football and Christmas will win over the winter period, and part of this includes demonstrating that they are targeting their audiences with a well-rounded drinks menu. 

Cider (27%) and Wine (28%) are the most popular drink choices among women watching sport events. There is a great opportunity here to serve winter-flavoured ciders, including mulled cider, and cater for female audiences with these popular serves. 

  • Magners  

Given that cider is the drink of choice for women during football tournaments, there is an opportunity for winter-flavoured cider including mulled cider to become popular serves.  Serving up a Mulled Magners will keep customers happy and warm, and you can even mix it up by serving up Mulled Magners Dark Fruit for a deliciously fruity twist! 

  • Orchard Pig  

PROOF Insight’s MODE-tracked cider trends 2022 has found that apple cider accounts for two thirds of listings in the UK’s most influential bars. Packed full of Somerset apples, Orchard Pig ciders are juicy and bittersweet and are perfect served as a cooler refreshment or in a spiced mulled cider. 

Going for Extra Time 

Showing sporting events in-venue is known for boosting drink sales. The recent Women’s Euros 2022 saw an uplift in sales over the tournament. And when England and Wales played in the men’s Euros 2016, there was an uplift in pubs sales of 109% compared to non-match days.  

Two out of the four home nations are playing in the 2022 World Cup tournament: England, and Wales who are competing for the first time since 1958. Expect added excitement from customers on match-days where either of these teams is playing. 

England play Wales on Tuesday 29th November at 7pm. 

Enticing customers into the venue pre-match and encouraging them to stick around post-match will be more of a challenge in winter, as customers will need more of a reason to venture out from the comfort of their homes and into the warm inviting arms of their favourite establishment.  

But with excitement already building around the 2022 World Cup, venues can capture interest early with things such as engaging social media activities, and tempting drinks deals. Venues can also use the sense of national pride to draw customers in, perhaps championing a national drink from the countries playing on that day, or by decorating to further create an exciting atmosphere.  

The Low and No opportunity  

Unlike the summer instalments of the World Cup, a high proportion of the Qatar 2022 matches will be shown during the daytime or early evening.  

Group games are at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm in the UK, and knockout games are at 3pm and 7pm.  

There’s a real opportunity to build in lunchtime offers that highlight low and no alcohol options so that customers can go to watch the match and still enjoy the ritual of a drink, but without feeling the effects of alcohol. 

The World Cup Opportunity  

It is likely that the football celebrations will lead into the start of Christmas celebrations depending on how far the home nations progress. This is potentially going to give the hospitality industry a much-needed bump in sales.  

Keeping beer top of mind will benefit venues over winter, as although it does not historically see high growth of share at Christmas, there is a good likelihood it will this year given that it is the drink of choice for football lovers. Cider also has an opportunity as the drink of choice among female football fans.  

Consumers are excited about the football and are looking forward to enjoying watching games in the pub atmosphere. However, there are some consumers who will be more inclined to stay at home to watch the matches. Venues that can demonstrate how they will be provide a buzzing atmosphere for the football and for Christmas will be the winners over the winter months of 2022.  


About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary looks after the majority of Matthew Clark's digital marketing comms. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website, social media, and other digital channels.

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