Food promos rule at Super Bowl

February 06, 2013

Supermarkets use party platters to differentiate from other stores selling food, as CPG brands escalate their presence in circulars.

So much Super Bowl buzz each year centers on the themes and effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of commercials aired during the game, including many from food and beverage brands.

However, 111.3 million people did watch the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots on February 5 – and ate and drank plenty during house parties that were largely supplied by supermarkets. Therefore, F3 contends that retailers and CPG brands already emerged as winners or losers before the game was played – based on their penetration into America’s homes for one of the biggest food days of the year.

Much was at stake. Approaching the gridiron battle, 71.3% of U.S. game watchers expected to spend $63.87 each on foods and beverages, apparel and related merchandise, an amount to exceed $11 billion in total spend, reported the National Retail Federation’s Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.

Jeff Lombardo, vice president of product, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, a chain of 15 upscale supermarkets, told The Detroit News:  “We’ll see anywhere from a 10% to 15% increase in sales from the week prior to the game. Sunday alone will represent 20% of the week’s volume.”

Multiply that football fever across the nation to understand the day’s pull. Retailers largely competed for their shares through traffic-pulling circulars – with a heavy emphasis on brand support and a downplay of private label for this particular day, according to an ECRM report on Super Bowl 2012 Retail Promotions.

Supermarkets weren’t the only ones in the circular game – Walgreens, CVS, Dollar General and Menard’s, along with Walmart and Target were among non-grocers that devoted prominent front-cover space (and sometimes more) to food sales.

Based on an index of 100 equaling normal volume, the Top 12 food subcategories promoted during Super Bowl week were:  deli dips and spreads (index=377), party platters and trays (344), avocado (332), refrigerated dips (292), poultry and wings (291), shelf-stable salsa and dips (278), barbecue and steak sauces (281), mayonnaise (257), snack nuts and seeds (224), ketchup (219), mustard (219) and gravies and sauces (214).

By emphasizing party platters, supermarkets feature their deli and produce departments and differentiate versus the mass merchants, drug and dollar chains selling food.

Many large food brands spike their ad frequency in the week leading up to the Super Bowl versus their 52-week average, the ECRM report shows. Here’s a sampler based on an index of 100 equaling normal volume:  Rotel (532), Lawry’s (465), Vlasic (363), Miracle Whip (360), Orville Redenbacher’s (359), Sweet Baby Ray’s (356), Philadelphia (349), Heinz (329), Planters (322), Lipton (316) and Dorito’s  (166).

For smaller brands, a successful Super Bowl freestanding insert can make or break their year. It can help a brand differentiate with unique attributes, recipes and coupons, notes ECRM, which cited several examples:
•    Newman’s Own and Cape Cod potato chips run their only annual FSI for the Super Bowl.
•    Blue Diamond, Pace, Ortega and Velveeta each run one of their two annual FSIs for the Super Bowl.
•    Planters, Frigo, Jolly Time and Johnsonville each commit a third of their annual FSIs to the Super Bowl.


This article is from the upcoming issue of Facts, FIgures & the Future, which will publish on Monday, February 13. Click here for a FREE subscription.