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Game on!

Boosting merchandising efforts around Super Bowl is a winning strategy
Hot wings glazed with honey, air fried or roasted, game day food
Shutterstock/Elena Veselova

In the midst of a dreary winter, Super Bowl weekend is a welcome respite full of eating, drinking, celebrations with friends—and perhaps watching some football, too. In 2021, 11 million Canadians tuned in for the half-time show alone. Though the pandemic caused gatherings in 2021 to fumble, they appear to be back on track for 2022. Of course, this bodes well for grocers who start promoting early to create some excitement before game day. According to 2021 data from the U.S.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), 86% of consumers planned to make purchases specifically for Super Bowl with a spend of nearly $75. Many Canadian retailers see that kind of uptick, too, across a range of categories.




“A couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, grocery retailers should ramp up their promotion and merchandising efforts to help generate interest and buzz,” says Diane Chiasson, president, Chiasson Consultants, which specializes in merchandising strategy. This is the time to highlight in-store options to be pre-ordered prior to game day, she notes. Grocers should also make sure to offer an array of take-and-bake items, like pizza and chicken wings. She suggests a range of tools to boost awareness, from Super Bowl messaging on receipts, digital displays at checkout counters, and increasing the frequency of social media posts to get customers to shop and plan for their parties.

“The goal is to increase foot traffic,” says Chiasson. “That means creating great, eye-catching in-store displays, visible as soon as customers arrive. Retailers need to build interest outside of the store as well, with banners, signage, a giant blow-up football ... Anything that tells shoppers this is the place for getting ready for Super Bowl festivities.”

While snack foods and munchies are mainstays, elevated fare will be big for 2022. “Consumers are willing to spend more on premium products for gatherings,” she says. “This is a good opportunity to highlight high-end offerings like seafood and steaks, too, along with more casual fare, in flyers and online.”




Nigel Oliver, category manager at Vince’s Market, is betting on robust sales of items like tortillas, guacamole, salsa, wings, frozen appetizers, chips and pop—and any products with Super Bowl called out on packaging. He says Vince’s will advertise those items in flyers and build additional off-shelf displays of popular items to maximize sales opportunities.

Food manufacturers are getting in on the action, too. “Snacking is the best part of game time, in our opinion,” says Leslie Mackay, vice-president of sales, Conagra Brands Canada. “We want to make it easier for fans to host friends and family during game night.” For this year’s big game, the company will feature Orville Redenbacher, Pogo and Angie’s Boomchickapop, supported with grab-and-go items such as its new Duke’s Beef Smoked Shorties. “We believe our tasty snacks requiring limited preparation will score big points with consumers,” she adds.

Conagra is creating an interactive recipe booklet featuring fan-favourite brands to inspire Canadians to explore new, elevated ways of snacking. Available in-store, it will include coupons for Conagra products. As well, a Pinterest SEO campaign will provide consumers with hosting ideas.

At Freybe Gourmet Foods, there’s enthusiasm around its new A Taste of Europe Salami and Cheese Packs for easy game-day charcuterie boards. For larger groups, marketing manager Tanya MacKay is betting on the popularity of retro fare like pigs in a blanket with its crowd-pleasing European Cocktail Wieners, and recommends grocers create pre-made grazing boxes and meal kits.




Don’t forget to promote better-for-you choices, too. “We pride ourselves on offering healthier options with products made with organic ingredients without compromising on the fun and tasty, indulgent factor,” says Peter Neal, chief snacking/sipping officer, Neal Brothers Foods.

The Ontario company is showcasing its new, non-alcoholic lagers and freshly launched Mexican Street Corn Chips. “Every year, we offer special buy-ins and this year will be similar, but we will also be pairing deals to include our beer with our corn chips, salsas and tortillas—special limited-time offers for retailers, discounted pricing and off-shelf displays,” says Neal.

Beer and football tend to go hand in hand. “We often see a nice lift in beer sales at game-day time, driven by those occasion purchases,” explains Jessica Embro, key account manager, Sleeman Breweries. She notes Super Bowl has had a positive impact on the brewer’s mainstream brands such as Sleeman Clear 2.0 and Sleeman Original Draught over the last few years, adding, “Throughout the full year, the better-for-you beer segment is driving the category and we expect the same trend to continue leading into this event.”

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer'December 2021/January 2022 issue.

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