Supermarkets in this country seek to reap extra profit from German soccer fans tapping into rising euphoria for the upcoming Euro 2012 Championships. Dubious bonus schemes are expected to do the trick.
On the sidelines of the Euro 2012 European Soccer Championship, due to kick off in Poland and Ukraine on Friday, German retail chains expect additional sales worth 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion).
Supermarkets, breweries and manufacturers of sweets and cosmetics are trying to lure soccer-crazy Germans with bonus schemes aimed at their affection for soccer collectibles.
Merchandising campaigns focusing on the German national team were "boosting sales," said Jan Wiesecke, marketing expert at Ruhr University in Bochum, adding that bonus programs relating to the team "appear regularly" during international tournaments
"In comparison to the Olympic Games, soccer raises bigger emotions in Germany since it's the country's number one sport," he said
Loyalty points galore
Ahead of the Euro 2012 Championships, a German confectionary manufacturer, for example, is running a loyalty points system for more than a dozen of its products.
However, consumers need to dig deep into their pockets before reaching the 45 points needed to win a baseball cap with the logo of the German Football Federation (DFB).
Customers have to buy 45 Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs or 11 jars of Nutella chocolate spread in order to qualify for the cap. An original national team shirt costs 100 points.
Nevertheless, products included in a bonus system were "much in demand," said Eva Mertin, manager of a supermarket in the REWE retail chain.
"We have to order four to five times the regular amount," she said, and added that sweets were the strongest sellers.
According to Wieseke, soccer events like the Euro 2012 were creating "positive sentiments" in the German population.
He says consumers feel they can latch on to the mood of the event by buying products with bonus points, regardless of the cost.
"For them the emotional experience linked to buying the product ranks foremost," he said.
German breweries are also trying to tap into German soccer euphoria by offering a national shirt with the buyer's name and a number of his choice.
However, the gullible soccer fan needs to buy eight crates of the brewer's beer, costing him about 120 euros, in exchange for a shirt worth about 80 euros in a shop.
Rush for collectibles
"Customer Relationship Management" was the official advertising term, Wieseke pointed out, for efforts trying to bind customers to a specific product or retail outlet.
REWE supermarkets, for example, offer trading cards with pictures of German national players in return for shopping worth more than 10 euros.
Eva Mertin said that the campaign had attracted many new customers who were mostly accompanied by their children.
"They are always waiting eagerly at the check-out to rip open the small bag containing the card to see if they have got the picture that is missing in their collection," she said
Even in the ideal case of getting a different picture every time, it would cost 320 euros worth of shopping to get the 32 trading cards offered in the campaign.
So parents find themselves under pressure from their children to buy something from the store. That's no surprise, says Wieseke; after all, "It's that store which offers a reward - and every parent knows how children can put them under quite a lot of pressure when it comes to shopping."
Author: Klaus Deuse / uhe
Editor: Michael Lawton