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Are Consumers Game for This Month’s Big Occasions?

Research delves into buying attitudes ahead of 2023 Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Frito Lay Super Bowl
(Image credit: Frito-Lay, 2023)

February may be the heart of winter and cabin-fever season, but two annual occasions draw shoppers to grocery stores: the Big Game and Valentine’s Day.

As the National Football League title game has moved deeper into February, that occasion is now close to the observation of Valentine’s Day. Given the current inflationary climate and shoppers’ mindset, are consumers poised to spend more on one event than another?

Melissa Myres, director for 84.51° Insights, thinks that grocers can score points with consumers focused on both sport and affection. “While I can’t predict Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day spending this year, my bet would be to take the over, meaning I don’t anticipate any spend cannibalization between these two,” she told Progressive Grocer. “Historically, when the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day fall within a few days of each other, we don’t see an impact to spending on key categories related to each holiday. Last year, Valentine’s Day fell on the Monday after the Super Bowl and spending remained intact. While inflationary pressure is slightly higher than year ago, we see an increased intent to watch the Super Bowl – up 4 points versus a year ago  with the majority of respondents hosting at their home.”

The Kroger Co.'s 84.51°’s customer analytics arm shared other data supporting the notion that consumers will add products to their carts to mark these two occasions falling within the same week. According to the group’s February Consumer Digest, snacks are likely to be in carts ahead of the Big Game on Sunday, Feb. 12: The researchers found that 72% of respondents eat chips and dips, 42% eat homemade appetizers and 44% eat pizza on game day.

Other fresh data from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division affirms that snacks are as much a part of gridiron festivities as the halftime show and commercials. According to a consumer poll conducted for that CPG, 49% of 2023 Super Bowl party guests believe that running out of snacks is worse than their favorite team losing the game.

Frito-Lay’s findings also show that consumers’ drive for variety is reflected in their snacks for this occasion. Compared to previous years, 71% say they're more excited to try new flavors or variations of their favorite snacks in 2023. Breaking that down by demographic teams, Millennials are the most eager to try new snack flavors, followed by Gen Z and Gen X, while Baby Boomers prefer classic flavors.

"The Super Bowl is about more than just football, it's about spending time with loved ones and snacking has become a big part of that ritual," declared Denise Lefebvre, SVP of R&D for PepsiCo Foods. "That's why we invest in understanding what our consumers want, so they can have the right flavors, variety and snack styles to make their spreads a touchdown everyone can celebrate." Frito-Lay is continuing another Super Bowl tradition of advertising during the game, launching ads this year for the Doritos and PopCorners brands.

Meanwhile, inflation is putting more points on the board this year when it comes to actual price points. New data from e-commerce firm Pattern shows that the price of tortilla chips is up 5% compared to fourth quarter of 2022, while cracker prices are 17% higher than Q4. Paper plates, plastic cups and plastic tablecloths are also higher by double-digit rates.

Two days after the 2023 Super Bowl, of course, grocers will see higher traffic for the Valentine’s Day holiday. 84.51°’s data reveals that there is some love for that occasion, with 38% of Kroger shoppers planning to spend Valentine’s Day with their spouse or significant other. Most of them (78%) intend to give candy, while 75% expect to purchase cards, 43% want to give flowers and nearly a third (32%) say that they will likely pick up a gift card. Other things on the gift list for Feb. 14: self-care items, personalized gifts and dinner at a restaurant.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) for its part, recently shared a rosy Valentine’s Day outlook based on its consumer research with Prosper Insights and Analytics. That survey, fielded in January, showed that consumers expect to spend $25.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, more than the $23.9 billion they shelled out last year. NRF’s findings affirm that 52% of consumers plan to mark the occasion and will spend an average of $192.80, the second highest amount since the surveys began in 2004.

Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to shop for the people we care most about,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “This year, as consumers embrace spending on friends and loved ones, retailers are ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s Day with memorable gifts at affordable prices.”

Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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