| Jan 21, 2021

Consumer Game Plans for Super Bowl LV

With kickoff less than three weeks away, Super Bowl LV will mark yet another major event during the COVID-19 pandemic. The game will undoubtedly look different this year: by necessity, attendance will be at an all-time low. But how— and if— individuals choose to watch the game outside the stadium will also differ this year, creating implications for food & drink manufacturers, retailers, and advertisers.

For many, the Super Bowl offers an excuse to gather with friends & family and to enjoy an entertaining game with a side of commercials and snacks. We know the big game leads to significant spikes in grocery sales, particularly in categories like appetizers, snacks, and alcohol. It also presents advertisers an opportunity to reach millions of engaged consumers; 99% of consumers surveyed by Numerator say they’ve watched the Super Bowl in the past few years. How are consumers planning to watch the game this year, and what do manufacturers and advertisers need to know?

This Year’s Game Stats: 9 in 10 will tune in

91% of consumers say they intend to watch Super Bowl LV this year; this is down slightly from past years, but still accounts for the vast majority of Americans. Those planning to forego watching this year are far more likely to be consumers with little-to-no interest in sports in general (“non-fans”), identified using Numerator Psychographic data. These individuals tend to prefer watching with friends & family, and view the game as an opportunity to gather with others— with gatherings limited this year, nearly 1 in 5 non-fans (18%) will choose to skip watching altogether, potentially shifting the overall audience composition towards more engaged sports fans.

Gathering with larger groups or viewing the game in a bar or restaurant will be limited amid COVID-19 restrictions, with 72% instead opting to watch at home alone or with members of their household. Last year, 39% watched with others from outside of their household; this year, only 14% will do so, likely shifting the types and amounts of food, drinks, and supplies purchased for game watches. 

Feeding the Fans: 8 in 10 will purchase food & drinks

The day before Super Bowl Sunday consistently rings in as one of the top days of grocery sales annually, according to Numerator Insights data. In 2019, the day before the Super Bowl was the highest single day of grocery sales all year; in 2018 it was the second highest, and in 2020 it came in number six, displaced by July 3rd and a few days in March at the peak of the COVID-19 stocking up. 

This year, 91% of Super Bowl watchers (83% of overall consumers) intend to purchase food & drinks to enjoy during the game. Despite more intimate watch-parties, most consumers (47%) still plan to purchase the same amount of food & drinks as they have for past Super Bowls, with another 15% anticipating purchasing more— good news for manufacturers producing snacks, appetizers, bevalc and other top Super Bowl categories. On the flip side, 29% of consumers say they’ll buy less than usual, and 9% will buy nothing at all.

Consumers will be getting their Super Bowl refreshments from a variety of places, the vast majority (61%) opting for in-store shopping at traditional retailers like grocery, mass, or club stores. Online shopping will also be a popular option, with 18% intending to use click-and-collect or curbside pick-up services and 13% planning to order groceries online for delivery in advance of the game. 

Ones to Watch: Commercials just as important as the game

Understanding consumer motivations is important for advertisers dropping hefty sums on Super Bowl ad spots. Overall, 43% of consumers consider commercials the most or second-most exciting part of the Super Bowl, neck-and-neck with the 44% who said the same of the game itself. Mid-level sports fans are the group most motivated by eating & drinking during the game, and make for a great group to target with snack and drink promotions leading up to game day. Many non-fans who tune into the game will be watching specifically for the commercials, so advertisers would be wise to include messaging that appeals to these individuals whose primary focus will be the ads.

Looking Ahead Towards Kickoff

Whether at home or attending a gathering, most Americans will still tune in to the Super Bowl on February 7th— looking for an entertaining game, engaging commercials, and an excuse to indulge in snacks & drinks. For brands looking to fuel viewers during the big game, and advertisers hoping to connect with the audience, understanding who will be watching and why is vital for success. For a look at Super Bowl viewers through the lens of your own brand or category shoppers, contact your Numerator Customer Success Representative or drop us a line today.