Super Bowl Game Day Menu Evolves With Changes in Consumer Demographics & Tastes

Wings and beer
Wings still ring up big numbers, but health-conscious fans are adding items to their spread.

NEW YORK — Wings and beer remain staple menu items for any Super Bowl party, but more consumers are serving additional items as taste and preferences change.

According to The Nielsen Co., frozen, fully cooked chicken wings still have a massive following, but with dollar sales down 7.9 percent year over year, consumers are signaling they want fresh — whether they are ones they cook or are cooked for them.

The deli counter wings remains a popular option for fully cooked chicken wings with sales up 15 percent to $650 million from $565 million last year. Fresh meat wings have also increased, with sales up 31.4 percent in the past year.

Similar to other retail sales, e-commerce is providing consumers with convenience. Online wing sales in the seven days leading up to and including the Super Bowl jumped from $7,984,198 in 2017 to $11,562,723 in 2018, a 45-percent increase, Nielsen pointed out.

Even though there is a still a strong taste for wings, items like cauliflower provide an option to add more vegetables to the game day offerings for more health-conscious clientele, the market research firm said.

"As consumers take cues from restaurants making fried cauliflower dishes, cauliflower purchases across the store increased 19 percent year-over-year. On a day-to-day basis, 39 percent of Americans say they're skipping meat protein and actively trying to include more plant-based foods in their diets. For example, more than a third of U.S. households say they follow a specific protein-focused diet such as high protein, Paleo or low carb," Nielsen said.

Health-conscious habits aside, U.S. consumers are still eating cheese. According to Nielsen, cheese doubled in online sales alone — from $442,230 on game day in 2017 to $894,505 on Super Bowl Sunday in 2018 — demonstrating that everything is on the table for the hungry omnichannel shopper.

Changes are also shaking up the beverage bar. With number of females who watch football growing, marketers in the adult beverage industry are shifting from a once male-dominated marketing mindset to one with a more balanced, female focus.

According to Nielsen's numbers, women have accounted for 46 percent to 47 percent of total viewership from Super Bowl XLVII in 2014 to Super Bowl LII in 2018. In addition, they control $4.3 trillion (73 percent) of U.S. spending.

According to Nielsen, the base of female football fans, defined as women 21-plus who watched (broadcast or cable) regular season NFL or the Super Bowl, have upped the ante for adult beverage consumption across the board.

With regard to wine, 11 percent of female football fans drink Pinot Grigio, compared with 7.8 percent of the broader over-21 female population. However, beer is the top drink of choice for female football fans, as 38 percent choose the alcoholic beverage.