Winner, winner, chicken dinner: How Super Bowl snacks reflect trends
- Although chicken wings are expected to dominate the game with another year of strong sales, more American consumers are adding plant-based protein options to their Super Bowl spreads, according to Nielsen.
- Similarly, the beverage landscape is changing as women, who make up almost half the viewership during the Super Bowl, begin to control who is targeted by marketers. Wine and hard seltzer consumption have grown significantly, but beer is still the top drink of choice for female football fans, with 38% choosing the classic beverage.
- "Some Super Bowl staples will last forever: count beer, wings and chips among them. But it’s a much more crowded space than it used to be, and marketers need to take note," the report said.
Super Bowl Sunday is a signature American holiday where snacks often take center stage. As has been the case for many years running, chicken wings take the cake when it comes to food items purchased leading up to the big game. The National Chicken Council estimates a record 1.38 billion wings will be consumed this weekend — 27 million more than in 2018.
But those trends are shifting as football fans begin to demand fresh — not frozen — options. Sales of frozen chicken wings were down 7.9% from last year, while sales of deli-cooked chicken wings were up 15% to $650 million. Raw, fresh meat wing sales were up 31.4% to $179 million.
While perhaps not as convenient as the frozen version of this classic snack, consumers are finding convenience in other forms, namely through ordering online. Online wing sales in the seven days leading up to the Super Bowl skyrocketed 45% from $7,984,198 in 2017 to $11,562,723 in 2018. And grocery stores are benefiting from the spike, too. According to Peapod, searches for chicken wings on the site last year catapulted by 135%.
To go with their wings, fans have a renewed need for accompaniments like dips. Peapod reported that dip searches increased by 130% from 2017 to 2018, with blue cheese and sour cream — two chicken wing classics — showing marked increases of 80% and 39%, respectively.
But chicken wings aren't the only snack grabbing a lot of attention this year. With 39% of Americans trying to include more plant-based foods in their diets and skipping meat protein altogether, cauliflower is carving out a space for itself at the table. Nielsen reported that cauliflower purchases increased 19% year-over-year and is expected to be a "swappable option" to get more vegetables in the Super Bowl snack lineup. Likewise, FoodNavigator reported that sales of jackfruit, another fibrous fruit commonly used as a meat substitute, increased 377% from 2016 to 2017.
Drinks are also seeing some preference changes. With sales of wine and low-calorie malt beverages growing, marketers are looking at shifting their offerings to cater more to women. Already, beers like AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra and Constellation Brands’ Corona have responded to female control of $4.3 trillion (73%) of U.S. spending, and have seen swift success with lower calorie, higher-priced brews. Michelob Ultra saw a year of double-digit volume growth in 2017.
Nielsen also found that almost all Super Bowl viewers use the internet to make their alcohol purchases. Online wine sales increased 46% from $716,792 on Super Bowl Sunday 2017 to $1,047,993 last year, so more beverage brands should be boosting their online presence.
As female football fans continue to increase, more companies have been catering to them with Super Bowl-themed products. If other alcoholic beverages can provide low-calorie offerings that have a slightly higher price tag to reflect their premium positioning, those brands might be able to persuade more football fans to drink larger quantities, which would be beneficial for their bottom line.