American Soccer and American Marketing


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Vladimir Vepryev is a consultant in business and international relations with a diverse background. A native of Ukraine, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and a firm believer in life-long enhancement of skills, he finished a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, another Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering, and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, all from the Ukrainian State University of Water Management. Later, Vlad earned a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University, a Master of Science in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam, and a Master of Liberal Arts, concentration in Government, from Harvard University. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.

The current year of 2014 became characterized as the year of the entrance of soccer to the new level of importance in the cultural and social life of the American society (Berezow, 2013; Stromberg, 2014; Sharma et al, 2014; Keyes, 2014). Such an increasing tendency has already been observed for several years (Saporito, 2010; Foer, 2011). The purpose of this article is to look how the increase of the soccer popularity in the U.S. may be taken into consideration in marketing for soccer-related products. Also, this article points at the major areas where the increased popularity of soccer in USA may provide an impact on other industries.

Soccer is already a worldwide sport. Of course, many societies share the very high esteem for this terrific game. In many countries soccer enjoys a dignified place as the very first game in the lives of young children. The prominent example of Brazil immediately comes to mind. As for such a super important component as the rooting for a favorite team, many fans overseas enthusiastically support both the favorite club and their national team. So far, as of 2014, the major attention to soccer in USA comes in relation to the international competitions when and where the best of the best represent their country. Instead, for example, baseball works differently and focuses entirely on the local clubs. Based on the American patriotic aspirations and the history of the national teams in the foreign countries, it is reasonable to expect that even the predictable future build-up of local soccer clubs in the American cities will not distract the major attention of the general population from the international soccer competitions.

A very broad-range of products and services can be soccer-related. A logo of a national soccer team, the World Cup official emblem, and other signs may be placed on many items and included in advertisements for many services. Obviously, the increase of soccer immediately creates an increase of sales of the soccer gear. But more often the clothes with the sport-related insignia are worn in order to show the support for the team and/or a particular player than for a sole reason of participation in a game.

In order to bring soccer-related products to the customers, the proper marketing message needs to be delivered. Kellogg defines “the ultimate purpose of a marketing message is to serve as a blueprint to guide collateral and sales tool creation, web content creation, and real live sales conversations” (2008). In relation to soccer, the marketing message needs to convey the feelings associated with soccer to the potential consumers. Kellogg warns in the same article against the overexpansion of the target audience in relation to the marketing message. While Kellogg makes a valid warning, the target audiences in the case of soccer seem huge. These target audiences just need to be defined and segmented with the attention to the demographics, needs, and perceptions of the soccer fans.

Similarly to other sport-related products, soccer-related products may include, but not be limited to the different kinds of clothing, tourist accessories, kitchenware, souvenirs, furniture, etc. In any case, this market overwhelmingly acts as the business-to-consumer (B2C) market. The notions of strength, teamwork, achievement, favorite athletes, mutual support, etc. successfully work through the entire spectrum of sports. These notions are not unique for soccer, but they may be applied for everything related to soccer. Product lining, the availability of similar products, will also work in the same way to the other sport-related products. For example, due to the team nature of soccer, available t-shirts shall include the variants with the names and numbers of the team players. The same scenario will be relevant for the t-shirts with images referring to the milestone victories of the favorite teams in the most important matches. These types of product lining can relate to soccer, baseball, hockey, and other sports. Furthermore, the promotional message for soccer may include some perceptions totally unique for soccer. Therefore, the promotional message may define soccer as a “sport plus” or as one of the games plus some unique extra benefits.

Definitely, the soccer-specific characteristics deserve more attention. These characteristics may optimize the activities in marketing and advertising in relation to all opportunities related to soccer.

By all means, soccer is the game for both females and males. While some games transpire in the co-ed settings, the separate gender-based teams exist as well. In fact, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) emphasizes the importance of the women teams (USSF, 2014). For instance, the default list of matches on the major USSF website provides the information for both women and men national teams (ibid). The official names of the national teams such as the United States Women’ National Soccer Team and the United States Men’s National Soccer Team,  include the equal references to the gender of the athletes. This availability of soccer for women needs to be emphasized in all products for the female target audiences. While the general attention to the women soccer did not reach its potential yet, it is reasonable to remain optimistic in this regard.

A very interesting advantage of soccer comes from the fact that soccer easily unites the American patriotism and the international dimension. This situation relates to the aforementioned preference to the national teams instead of the local clubs in USA. Therefore, the messages of the American patriotism and of the representation of USA abroad have a very strong applicability to soccer. The fans of every national soccer team that travel to the World Cup, the continental championships, and/or other international competitions proudly wear national symbols, carry/fly national flags, and sing patriotic songs. Based on this, the discounts and the special packages from American travel companies for the U.S. military veterans traveling for the international soccer competitions may be especially appropriate.

Indeed, soccer is a patriotic sport. The American fans enjoyed being Americans during the World Cup tournament in Brazil in summer 2014. Basically, we can see people representing USA in the wider world next to the people representing Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Netherlands, Iran, Japan, Australia, etc. This notion pertains to the fans as much as to the national teams. Naturally, soccer-related symbols, insignia, and souvenirs may be really applicable for travel products.

The American culture respects the individual’s ethnic roots. It will be possible to constantly cheer for the U.S. team alongside the team of one’s native country or the ancestors’ original country. This concept is similar to keeping one or more flags on the desk next to the American flag as many people practice including me with the combination of American and Ukrainian flags on my desk. Certainly, the friendly game between USA and Ukraine, 0-2 on March 5, 2014 in Cyprus gave me some weird feelings. Given the existence of 209 national associations and their respective teams in soccer (FIFA, 2014), such days do not occur very often for the majority of people.

Given the popularity of soccer among some ethnic groups in USA, it may be applicable to specifically target Hispanic, Brazilian, African, and Arabic ethnic groups in terms of segmentation and the languages of advertising. Ruffini (2014) emphasizes necessity of bilingual marketing and suggests that the utilization of the same approach to the related social campaigns. When the U.S. national soccer team participates in a major international soccer tournament abroad, American companies may utilize the time window in order to enter the markets in the hosting country. It must be a tournament, not an individual game, because a tournament does not generate a perception of one opposite team.

The next important criterion deals with the age demographics. While soccer ignites enthusiasm in the diverse age groups now, it generates especial attractiveness among the younger age cohorts below the age of twenty four (Ruffini, 2014; Hay, 2014; Keyes, 2014). Therefore, often the soccer-related products may need to be manufactured, provided, and advertised in accordance with the particular needs of the younger age groups.

There are some additional business aspects of the increased interest to soccer. The popularity of this sport shall create additional jobs in the sport management sector. There may be also a demand for related service jobs. The extent of job growth in two aforementioned categories seems dependent from the tendencies in other sports in USA. Eventually, new soccer stadiums may be built or the existing stadiums may be converted to the multi-purpose facilities. Definitely, more international traveling to the soccer competitions abroad can be projected. More interaction in social media on soccer-related topics will emerge.

In 2014 soccer seems to the part of the present and even to a greater extent the part of the future. The business stakeholders need to take this situation into account.


Berezow, Alex (2013). The rise of American soccer. Real Clear World. ( Published on July 30, 2013. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

FIFA (2014). FIFA Associations. ( Accessed on July 24, 2014.

Foer, Franklin (2011). Why is soccer becoming more popular in the United States? U.S. Department of State. IIP Digital. ( Published on June 3, 2011. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

Hay, Robert (2014). Why the World Cup will make soccer mainstream. World Soccer Talk. ( Published on June 21, 2014. Accessed on July 24, 2014.

Kellogg, David (2008). How to develop a marketing message. Kellblog. ( Published on February 14, 2008. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

Keyes, David (2014). Soccer is no longer America’s sport of the future. Al-Jazeera America. ( Published on June 14, 2014. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

Ruffini, Patrick (2014). A study of World Cup tweets reveals important insights about the demographics of soccer. Business Insider. ( Published on July 17, 2014. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.

Saporito, William (2010). Yes, soccer is America’s game. Time. (,28804,1991933_1991952_1993757,00.html). Published on June 3, 2010. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

Stromberg, Joseph (2014). Is soccer finally becoming a mainstream TV sport in America? These chars say yes. Vox. ( Published on June 21, 2014. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

Sharma, Amol, Keach Hagey, and Laura Stevens (2014). Is this soccer moment in America? Wall Street Journal. ( Published on June 27, 2014. Accessed on July 23, 2014.

United States Soccer Federation (2014). Matches. ( Accessed on July 23, 2014.


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