Retailers, CPG Cos. Suit Up for the Big Game

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Retailers, CPG Cos. Suit Up for the Big Game


NATIONAL REPORT — The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers are not the only ones preparing for the National Football League's big game this weekend.

Convenience store retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are hoping to rack up more than points on the board as millions of consumers tune into Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Lights, Camera, Action

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. is using the big game as a platform to promote its fresh food offerings. In one TV spot, "Dangerous Assumptions," the retailer warns "don’t assume you can get fresh food at a gas station."

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sheetz plans to buy regional airtime during the game. The company operates more than 500 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.

The news outlet also detailed the new spot Kraft Heinz is running during Sunday's matchup. The commercial, "Weiner Stampede," features a field full of dachshunds dressed as hot dogs rushing toward a group of condiments that includes Heinz ketchup and mustard. The song "Can't Live If Living Is Without You" plays in the background.

Super Bowl advertising regular Anheuser-Busch will also have a strong showing during the game. Michelob ULTRA will lead Anheuser-Busch's advertising charge on Sunday by airing "Breathe" in the coveted position following kickoff. To set the tone for the game — and ads — to follow, the 30-second spot by FCB Chicago will bring the energy and dedication of the Michelob ULTRA drinker to life through the vision of action film director and fitness enthusiast Antoine Fuqua.

"Breathe" highlights the many ways that Michelob ULTRA drinkers put in the effort to live an active, balanced life, in a disruptive, grittier style that people haven't seen before in the brand's previous marketing, according to Anheuser-Busch.

The spot also debuts Michelob ULTRA's new tagline and 2016 brand platform, "Brewed for Those Who Go the Extra Mile," which conveys the idea that enjoying a beer socially and living an active life don't need to be mutually exclusive. This is the brand's first Super Bowl appearance since 2010.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), an estimated 188.9 million people will tune into the championship game, up from the estimated 183.7 million who had planned to watch last year. 

Big Game = Big Money

Viewers and partygoers will spend an average of $82.19 on food, décor, team apparel and more, according to NRF's Super Bowl Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. This is up from $77.88 last year and the highest in the survey's history. Total Super Bowl 50 spending is expected to top $15.5 billion.

"Two great teams going head-to-head and a historic game celebrating the 50th Super Bowl could make this one of the most-celebrated football games we've seen in some time," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "We expect retailers will be aggressive with promotions on food and decorations as well as athletic wear and electronics in the coming days as they look to entice those planning to watch the Super Bowl."

Of those watching the game, a few key highlights include:

  • 34.7 percent (85 million) say the football game is the most important part of the day, while 17.7 percent (43.4 million) say the commercials are, and another 4.5 percent (11 million) say enjoying the fun food is most important;
  • 43.3 million fans (17.7 percent) are planning to throw a Super Bowl party, while another 70 million (28.6 percent) say they'd rather let their friends and relatives do the hosting and attend instead;
  • 79.8 percent of partygoers and viewers will purchase food;
  • 7.7 percent of Americans are planning to purchase a new television to enjoy the game — similar to last year's 8.8 percent;
  • 11.1 percent of those planning to watch the game will buy new team apparel and/or accessories;
  • Nearly eight in 10 Americans say they view the commercials during the Super Bowl as entertainment, while 17.5 percent say the commercials make them aware of advertisers' brands, and 10.3 percent say they influence them to buy products.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, an estimated 40 percent of American adults who plan to spend money for the game will do so at a shopping center. Of those who will spend money on items for the game, 75 percent will do their shopping at a grocery store or supermarket, followed by discount stores (30 percent), warehouse clubs (16 percent), convenience stores (11 percent), sporting goods retailers (9 percent), and electronics stores (7 percent).

Food for Thought

Food plays a big part in any football Sunday, and the title game is no exception.

IRI released data detailing the sales lift of various food, beverage and consumer product categories that are most impacted by pre-game preparations and shopping sprees for the Super Bowl. Notably:

  • Dips and spreads experienced the most dramatic sales lift the week prior to the Super Bowl last year, as shelf-stable dips/dip mixes grew more than 45 percent, refrigerated dip sales increased 48 percent, and refrigerated spreads were up 13 percent vs. the week prior. In total, $54.8 million was spent on dips and spreads during the week leading up to the Super Bowl last year.
  • Beer is the No. 1 product category by sales dollars, generating $583 million in sales the week prior to the NFL's flagship event. It far outpaced liquor, which generated sales of $109 million.
  • With more than 196 million units sold, salty snacks constitute the leading category by units, generating $438 million in sales.
  • With $277 million in sales, natural cheese accounts for the majority of cheese sales during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. 
  • Firewood or firestarter sales increased 27 percent as Americans prepared to watch the Super Bowl; candles also performed well, with sales growth of more than 10 percent.

While chips and dip score big among IRI findings, our football-loving neighbors to the north favor pizza. A Leger poll conducted from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21 confirmed that pizza is the preferred food choice for Canadians who are planning to watch the Super Bowl at a private residence. 

Forty-one percent of Canadians watching the game at home selected pizza as their food item of choice, followed by chicken wings (20 percent) and nachos (3 percent).

Although pizza was the clear favorite by a 2-to-1 margin, it may depend on location. The survey found that 24 percent of respondents in Ontario and Quebec said they prefer chicken wings vs. 13 percent in other provinces.

But the two choices are not mutually exclusive. Chicken wings continue to be the perfect pairing for pizza, with 30 percent of Canadians surveyed selecting them as their favorite side dish. 

Party Planners

Nearly half of millennial males plan to host a Super Bowl party this weekend, and nearly all of them are taking their hosting duties quite seriously as 43 percent vow to food shop a week before the big game, according to a new national survey by dunnhumby, a customer science company. 

Where they plan to shop may surprise you. According to the survey, 42 percent of millennial males will do their pre-game food shopping at a specialty food store, and not their local supermarket. However, not everyone will abandon their local food shopping destinations: respondents aged 35 to 44 plan to head to their local grocer for big-game necessities. 

The menu of millennial males will also differ this year. Overall, 62 percent of all Americans and 67 percent of millennial males plan to bring or serve a healthier dish this Super Bowl.

However, dips still dominate game offerings. Overall, Americans ranked salsa, buffalo chicken and guacamole as their go-to dips and this ranking was mirrored by male respondents as well. Women, on the other hand, prefer guacamole, salsa and spinach/spinach and artichoke dips over all other options, according to dunnhumby.

When deciding on other menu must-haves, chips and salsa, pizza and wings reign as the top three choices for Americans.

Beverages also play a crucial role in any football festivity. The survey found that 70 percent of Americans who plan to serve or drink alcohol plan to sip on domestic beer — with 74 percent of male millennials opting for beer like Bud Light instead of the stereotypical craft beer options of the stereotypical Hipster Millennial. 

In addition, the majority of women will drink domestic beer, 42 percent will go for a glass of wine, and another 38 percent will choose hard liquor.

And while Peyton Manning may be leading the Broncos against Cam Newton and the Panthers, the survey found Super Bowl is more than just gridiron and commercials. Notably, 74 percent of respondents said the Super Bowl is a great reason to have a party.