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02/01/2021

Maybe a Pandemic Super Bowl Won’t Be So Bad

Thad Rueter
Senior Editor
Thad Rueter profile picture
Maybe the Pandemic Super Bowl Won’t Be So Bad
Many Super Bowl viewers plan to buy extra snacks for the Feb. 7 game.

Read a forecast about Super Bowl retail and you might come away with some gloomy thoughts. But IRI is tacking a bit of a different path with its own Super Bowl predictions — a crystal ball that could cause some cautious optimism among the food retailers and CPG brands that depend on the game for serious revenue and attention.

According to IRI’s new research, “America is Ready for Some Football,” consumers say they are as likely to watch the game on Feb. 7 as last year’s contest. Even so — and like other holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic — this year’s game will look and feel different. Still, the odds are in CPG’s favor, with indications of a strong selling season with upwards of $10 billion in key category sales purchased in the two weeks ahead of the Super Bowl Sunday.

IRI shared this data about Super Bowl viewing:

  • Roughly 60% of American households expect to watch the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Anticipated viewership parallels that of 2020.
  • Viewing parties will be different than last year, when four-in-10 watched with their immediate family and nearly 20% watched at a party. COVID-19 has changed this expectation for 2021, with nearly half of all viewers expecting to watch with their immediate household members.
  • Interestingly, younger Millennials and Gen Z are more apt to report that they’ll watch with friends compared to older generations.

As for Super Bowl CPG spending, IRI said that:

  • Consumers forecast that their spending will increase modestly for 2021’s Super Bowl. IRI’s proprietary research suggests that the average spend is forecasted to be $41.50, up $1.50 from last year’s event.
  • A strong proportion of consumers expect to buy many of the same brands they buy during the year, but a large amount also say they’ll purchase brands they normally “don’t buy to bring more of a party home.”
  • A quarter of consumers will be relying on prepared or delivered meals — indeed, as Retail Leader has noted, grocery and food delivery has become a bigger part of both the regular NFL seasons and the upcoming championship game.
  • Super Bowl spending in key categories during the two weeks leading up to kickoff tip $10 billion across 23 tracked categories. Share of total edible category spending generally mirrors the total year. More specifically, 39% of consumers plan to buy extra snacks for the game, while 29% will order in, and 24% will make a special dinner.

As for how food retailers and CPG brands can make the most of this year’s Super Bowl, IRI advises them to “monitor consumer implications of awareness, imagery, consideration and purchases to capitalize on potential new buyers and further solidify your current franchise,” and to “leverage learning from Super Bowl celebrations, as retailers and manufacturers prepare for March Madness, the NCAA’s signature event, to help consumers enjoy the return of college basketball’s biggest showcase.”