What can the Rugby World Cup teach us about competing in a demanding marketplace?

Rugby World Cup 2023

If you’re not a fan of rugby then it may have passed you by, but we’re currently in the middle of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Beginning on the 8th of September, the competition finishes on the 28th of October and has already given us plenty of impressive performances and the odd surprise result. But beyond the spectacle of fields filled with terrifyingly powerful players, the game of rugby has a lot to teach us in the retail world.

Here are some of the lessons we can all take into retail from the Rugby World Cup.

Doing the hard work

Aside from being genuinely dirty, and players leaving the pitch covered in mud, grass and, possibly, blood, there’s a common theme you’ll notice if you watch rugby.

Some games are simply won by teams gritting their teeth, doing the hard, often less glamourous, work of tackling and forcing the other team to make mistakes through discipline and holding steady.

In today’s retail market, it can be difficult to stay on course and to continue to do the hard work when there is so much you could focus on.

If you’re prepared to do the work that isn’t glamourous, but is foundational for your brand and your customers, then you’ll reap rewards even during difficult times.

This could look like ensuring your supply chain is stable and as local as possible, making essential (but possibly unnoticeable) changes to your packaging to reduce its environmental impact or investing in a new CRM system that syncs all of your data from warehouse to front of house.

According to Adobe’s 2022 Trust Report, consumers are looking for exceptional brand experiences embedded through trust. If you invest well in the behind-the-scenes basics, then you can build trust with your customers at every step of their journey with you.

A game of respect

One thing about rugby that sets the tone from the beginning is the level of respect between players, officials and fans.

It’s common to hear a “Yes sir,” from players when they’re being given a telling off by the referee and to see home and away fans enjoying the game while sitting next to each other. Before and after games, it’s rare to hear of any anti-social behaviour and when tempers flare on the pitch, it’s quick to resolve.

This thread of respect that sits at the heart of the game is also an essential thread for retailers.

Consumers are quicker than ever to switch brand allegiance when they feel that inclusion and diversity isn’t prioritised. And that’s something we’re working hard on here at Worldpack. Our latest Sustainability Report talks about the things we’re doing to help everyone feel respected and prioritised – including essential training on unconscious bias for our management team.

No quick wins

It’s tempting to resort to quick fixes and jump on the latest trends, particularly when the world of retail is moving so fast.

But taking a leaf out of the Rugby World Cup’s book, it pays to take your time.

The Rugby World Cup lasts almost two months, that’s a whole lot longer than many other World Cups. The reason for this is of course the physical nature of the game, with much more time needed to recover in-between matches.

This time allows for players to rest and recuperate but also allows coaching staff and leaders to re-think and consider their strategy, allowing time and space for analysing results and shaping approaches to upcoming games.

In retail, we must adapt quickly, but often that can become knee-jerk. We need to build in time to our strategy and approaches so that we can assess how things are working, re-think if needed and make considered approaches that are right for our teams and our consumers.

PwC’s Retail Outlook 2023 report highlighted that the answer to many of retail’s problems lies in finding this balance, stating “Resolving this challenge will require finding the right balance of priorities to address longer-term challenges while being able to apply short-term fixes.”

Think differently

Another advantage of the Rugby World Cup being so long is that it forces the event organisers, Rugby World Cup Ltd, to take a different approach to attracting and maintaining interest in the tournament.

If you’ve already tuned into some of the games at the current World Cup, you’ll have noticed music being blasted out during water breaks and third match official reviews to keep the crowd entertained. And if you happened to see the Ireland vs South Africa match you won’t have failed to miss what seemed like the entire nation of Ireland singing along to The Cranberries, Zombie, at the end of the game.

Creating atmosphere through tailored experiences and thinking hard about what your audience wants is a way to stay in the hearts and minds of your customers for longer.

We’ve written at length about in-store experience and what that means for you in 2023 and beyond, so it’s time to think differently about how you capture your audience and keep them engaged.  

If the Rugby World Cup has inspired you to approach retail a little differently, then speak to our team on +31 (0) 88 494 20 80 or email us at online@worldpack.eu

David Mines
Business Development Director

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