Soccer has Become the Largest Youth Sport in the United States: How Companies are Capitalizing on th

From: Rukket Sports
Published: Fri Mar 15 2013

Major league soccer and a larger Hispanic population have fueled a growth in the world’s favorite game in the United States. Fans of the game have been heralding its coming for years, but instead of a quick revolution it has been a steady drumbeat of gains that has grown soccer into the most played youth sport in the nation. It doesn’t take too much deduction to realize that in another generation those youths will be adults and their favorite sport will follow them to their middle aged lives, their children and beyond.

What does this mean for businesses involved in the soccer industry. First it is going to be a long hall (probably why we have heard so little about it), and second to build up loyalty now will pay dividends in the future.

Companies and marketers have had a difficult time reaching this demographic, notably because no one seems to be able to provide a definition of whom the soccer fan is, or specifically who the soccer consumer actually is. Most companies seem to lump them into one category as anyone that is in contact with the game. Soccer moms, armchair referees, fans of MLS, World Cup watchers, league players or the weekend park warriors. This fragmented group is even harder to penetrate as soccer fans tend to have totally different tastes than the average sports consumer that American firms have had a difficult time relating too.

"They tend to have more contact with the European market," notes Jana Skrabalkova, a marketer of new sporting goods in the United States. ‘They really aren’t interested in the things you might expect. They have an eye for details and style you don’t find in the average consumer." If they don’t think your product is worthwhile, "then forget it," she notes.

Jana’s, who’s European herself, and her company, Rukket, which designs and manufactures new sporting equipment points to the pop up soccer goals, which is a market that Rukket currently is a member and which gives her a unique insight. The soccer consumer has been purchasing pop up soccer goals for years before (pop up) were popular in the United States. Pop up products have only recently begun to catch on in the US. This is for several reasons, one was poor quality and second, they are a fickle crowd where small details drive buying habits. Like the difference between the shape of the netting: "Right now 6 sided netting is popular, same as the hexagon on a soccer ball," says Jana, even though it has no impact on the strength of the net (Jana also noted some soccer ball patches have 5 sides while others have 6).

While the market for soccer equipment has been dominated by the likes of Umbro, Adidas, and Puma for years, American companies have taken notice. "It’s a battle everyday, but what really matters is having something different and unique, soccer players pride themselves on that, combined with a little style and of course quality." Jana admits, "quality is the big selling point."

While European soccer has enjoyed much of the focus an overlooked demographic is the Hispanic population in the united state, many of whom come from countries where soccer is the #1 past time (maybe a reason Jana’s company Rukket named its soccer goal "El Diablo").

As soccer grows in popularity expect to see more and more from companies bringing new and innovative equipment. If we have learned anything over the years its that American tastes can change very quickly. And the successful companies of the future will be the ones that are able to keep their fingers on the pulse on these shifting demographics. A quick search of specialty stores selling soccer equipment shows there is no shortage, it’s the merchandise that is going to see the greatest gains in the coming years. And the biggest winners… The soccer player.

About Rukket Sports:
Rukket is a design and manufacturing company specializing in innovative sports equipment

Ryan Dickerson
Rukket Sports
1631 Hilldise Mill Rd
Wilmington, DE 19807
Company: Rukket Sports
Contact Name: Ryan Dickerson
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Contact Phone: 4049370384

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