US grocers: maximising the Superbowl opportunity

Date : 31 January 2013

With the 47th Superbowl taking place next Sunday, February 3rd, the major US grocery retailers are focusing this week on maximising the trading opportunities. As the largest sporting event in the US, and one of the largest globally, what are the key focus areas for the retailers?

Game themed flyers used almost universally

With weekly flyers a key promotional tool for retailers in the US, most have either added a Superbowl theme to their flyers or included a special insert this week. Football themed imagery is used throughout the flyers. The focus typically falls on snack foods, including soft drinks and potato chips, although in warmer regions of the US, grilling, or BBQ, is also a key focus. Various offers are built around pre-game appetizers, half-time snacks and winning meals. While most of the promotions run in line with their weekly schedules, a number also feature three or four day only deals in the run up to the event. Where relevant, retailers are also highlighting other ranges, such as Walmart promoting its flat screen TVs.


Focus on the deli and throwing a party

Beyond packaged food ranges, the other main focus for the retailers is the deli. As it is traditional for US consumers to host Superbowl parties, the key messages focus on making entertaining easy. With hot food-to-go a key element in many US grocers, the Superbowl is a great opportunity to promote their prepared food ranges, including hot chicken products and platters. Wegmans' 'Monster Party Bar' stood out as a relatively unique offer, as it leverages its prepared foods credentials. Party essentials, including paper plates, paper towels and picnic chairs also feature in some retailers' promotions.


Online environment helps to demonstrate total offer

With many retailers undertaking a range of initiatives, the online environment is being used effectively to communicate with shoppers. Two retailers which stand out in this respect are Stop & Shop and Lucky Supermarkets.

Stop & Shop has a dedicated area on its website where it has brought together its entire Superbowl-focused initiatives under the 'Game on' strapline. These include its weekly promotional flyer, with a focus on party food, and a range of recipe ideas featuring its private label products. The micro-site also links through to its prepared food ranges, which can be ordered for home delivery or in-store pick-up. Lucky Supermarkets has also taken a similar approach with its 'Friends. Football. Food' micro-site, where a number of suppliers' promotions are featured.


Challenging to create uniqueness

Given the broad appeal of the event across the US, almost all retailers feature some Superbowl-related element within their promotional campaigns this week, although among more premium focused operators there is less emphasis.

In this environment it is challenging for retailers to create a truly unique 'game-day' offering; similar straplines and design elements are used within flyers, and most promote the same types of products. Of course, these are products which are recognised to be popular among football fans and generate significant sales uplifts.

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