A new football season has kicked-off to great fanfare and, with it, a pivotal shopping season for many companies.
“Gameday” may be just one of several red-letter shopping seasons in Q4, but it’s a long season. Not just for players and fans; for brands and retailers as well.
In many ways, gameday runs from the first kickoff of high school football in August to the final whistle of the Super Bowl in February. Half the year!
And whereas Halloween, Thanksgiving, and holiday purchases generally lead up to a single day on the calendar, every new weekend—and every new game—is an opportunity for households to make gameday purchases. No wonder gameday is an important season for many categories, from hamburger buns to ice coolers, from beer to fan gear.
“Gameday is a key opportunity for brands to acquire new customers and deepen loyalty with existing customers,” said Blake Pointer, SVP of growth at Field Agent and a CPG executive in the salsa category. “It’s a great opportunity for brands to expand consumption through weekly tailgating and viewing occasions…”
Specifically, Pointer said his brand has found success using gameday as a stage to offer “total recipe solutions” and to drive “incremental volume via secondary placement in-store.”
But, alas, gameday 2020 was terribly hampered by COVID-19—fewer games, fewer fans in seats, fewer tailgating events, and fewer gameday watch parties. Ultimately, fewer consumption opportunities.
The good news is, like blitzing linebackers, football fans may be feeling more aggressive about gameday participation and consumption this year. Let’s look at some numbers before considering ways CPG brands can score with more gameday shoppers this season.
Surveying Gameday Shoppers
As originally reported in “The CPG Guidebook for Q4 Success,” a free resource from Field Agent, virtually half (47%) of 1,100 households surveyed said they intend to purchase groceries and/or merchandise to enhance their football-viewing this season.
Moreover, of the 519 who expect to make gameday purchases, 45% anticipate spending more this season compared to last year, while 21% expect to spend less.
Of course, there are purchases…and then there are purchases. Given the often communal nature of football-viewing, with tailgates and at-home watch parties, gameday is an opportunity for brands to spread single purchases over multiple households.
“Gameday is one of a few selling events where one purchase can get your brand in front of many households all at once,” said Pointer. “If people are eating your product before or during the game, there’s a good chance people from outside that home are eating it as well.”
Which, crucially, invites trial and can result in new customers. Touchdown!
But, you may be asking, just how “communal” will fans be this football season? Given the Delta variant in particular, perhaps would-be gameday shoppers will still avoid other fans?
In a separate survey, we asked 944 football-watching households (a) whether they hosted or attended tailgate/watch parties (with people outside the home) last football season, and (b) whether they intend to host/attend one this football season.
With 56% expecting to host/attend a football get-together this year, compared to 33% who did so last year, gameday households may be feeling better about venturing out—or having others venture in—this season.
Which would be good news for soda, beer, chips, and many other brands that benefit from tailgating and at-home watch parties.
But what exactly can CPG companies do to win more gameday business?
How to Score More Gameday Sales
“The CPG Guidebook for Q4 Success” describes several best practices for growing your Q4 business, shared by a panel of CPG veterans. As noted in the guidebook, there are fundamentally two seasons for impacting Q4 sales (including gameday sales):
- The Sales Phase (Q1-Q3): When brands negotiate purchases and programs with retail buyers for upcoming Q4 events
- The Execution Phase (Q4): When brands monitor and, in many cases, correct the retail execution of these programs
This is a critical distinction, because both phases are a chance to “move the needle” on gameday sales, but only by taking advantage of the gameday season in front of you.
There are steps you can take this season to impact gameday sales this year, and there are steps you can take this season to impact gameday sales next year.
The guidebook details several impactful ways to grow your Q4 and gameday business, including:
- Win the space wars
- Hit the sales floor early
- Just one more case (maybe two)
- Have an “after” strategy
- Micromanage the supply chain
- Shift your online ad spend
But here are two bonus tips particularly relevant for gameday retail:
1. Think “whole basket”
Retailers know it. Many brands know it. Gameday retail is a cross-merchandising bonanza.
Think about your typical tailgating or at-home watch party. What’s on the table?
A large variety of items…and many require a variety of ingredients to prepare.
Which means, for retailers and brands, gameday retail is a pivotal opportunity to fill shopping carts with complementary items. And, shoppers are open to suggestions.
“Our pitch to a retailer might be, ‘Hey, we’ll offer shoppers new and fresh tailgating recipes’,” Pointer said. “This way we could push not just our salsa, but all the ingredients needed to make recipes that drive the total basket. This is a win for the shopper, retailer, and brand.”
Retailers love it, Pointer explained, because you’re driving multiple categories, fuller baskets, and incremental sales and customers—making gameday a prime occasion to generate trial among new customers.
How do you do this? As Pointer said, a recipe is one way. A demo is another.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of getting creative…and thinking whole basket.
2. Help the buyer win
If this tip looks familiar, it’s because we discussed it at-length in “The Buyer Meeting Success Kit: How to Land (and Keep) Your Product on Store Shelves.” But it deserves special attention here.
If your brand is looking to make a big gameday splash, first be prepared to show your retail buyer how you intend to help them win. After all, they’re under pressure to grow their category through incremental sales and customers.
How can you help them do this—better than other brands clamoring for additional space and merchandising during the football season?
As Pointer advised, prepare a program—whether demos, discounts, new flavors, specialty packs, or something else—that demonstrates you’re serious about gameday retail. And, that you can move your SKUs—and complementary SKUs—off shelves and displays.
Use this as leverage to negotiate more space, more displays, or more time (earlier appearance on the sales floor) with the retail buyer. Make a case for what Pointer called “incremental volume via secondary placement in-store.”
It’s a win-win.
For the buyer. For the brand.
Are You Ready for Some Football (Sales)?
Q4 is packed with crucial shopping events, including football gameday. Field Agent created “The CPG Guidebook for Q4 Sales” to help your brand make the most of Q4 2021.
This free guidebook contains:
- Expert advice from seven veteran CPG professionals
- Insights into shoppers’ attitudes and intentions from surveys with over 2,000 shoppers
- Useful tools to help your brand win more sales in the final months of the year
Download your free copy below.