Watching England all but crash out against Uruguay, my Italian friend Luca remarked of three lions defender Phil Jagielka, “If you are Italian and do a mistake like this, we take away your passport and send you to live in Switzerland”. England fans may well concur, but for now whilst their team’s chances hang suspended by the thinnest of threads, their admiration for the Azuuri – and Pirlo in particular – may turn into fully fledged support. Mintel’s research shows that amongst those world cup watchers supporting teams other than – or in addition to – England, some 19% were following Italy. With England’s fading hopes dependent on Italian hospitality in the form of them charitably thrashing Costa Rica and Uruguay in their remaining games, these numbers can be expected to swell, though Mario Balotelli getting his requested royal reward looks an even longer shot than English survival.

Beyond England’s exit, it seems that people will keep watching, as this support for Italy is part of a wider trend towards England fans and UK World Cup watchers in general looking at the bigger picture and supporting multiple teams, often in the company of their friends from other countries. Mintel has plenty of evidence to suggest that this World Cup doesn’t end with England – or their expected demise – and that goes for the commercial opportunities too.

Before the World Cup kicked off, Mintel found that 13% of England fans would be supporting another team as well as England. The reality check appeared to have come ahead of the one delivered by the head and boot of Luis Suarez, with even the bookies having England down as only third favourites to emerge from Group D before kick off. But whilst there may well have been an element of England fans hedging their bets in declaring their support for ‘second teams’, this also marks a welcome progression away from jingoism and reflects how cosmopolitan society – and our domestic club sides – have become.

All this talk of a ‘World Party’ can seem like hollow marketing fluff, especially when it’s voiced by the frankly odious footballing money pit that is FIFA, but Mintel’s research shows that the World Cup can indeed unite people and promote cultural and commercial crossover. We found that 15% of consumers claim they will watch games with other nationalities, whilst 17% said they like trying or would be willing to try out different food and drink to match the teams they’re watching.

The fact that so many consumers are planning to watch with other nationalities reminds us – following months of political hand-wringing over the rise of right wing politics – that the UK can be an inclusive place even in the arena of football. Not surprising perhaps considering that Mintel’s research has also shown that 50% of UK consumers agree with the statement that “’Being British’ is now as much about embracing different cultures as it is about sticking to British traditions”.

Returning to the theme of ‘second teams’, Italy might now be the nation’s favourite, but prior to England’s predicament that honour certainly went to Brazil, with 32% of those who said they will be supporting another team supporting the Seleção. When it comes to commercial opportunities, it appears that Brazil’s appeal will linger on long after England’s presence at World Cup 2014 has ended, with over one in 10 (13%) consumers saying that the tournament has made them interested in visiting the country and 9% claiming to be interested in trying out food and or drink from Brazil. The World Cup marks the beginning of Brazil’s prolonged three-year period in the media spotlight and it already appears to be working its marketing magic. Even for England fans, it seems that the World Cup will continue to be something that they will buy into.

If you would like to know what these trends – and others – mean for your business please contact Richard to discuss our trend presentation, project and facilitation services. E-mail: rcope@mintel.com; Twitter @Richard_Mintel

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