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Although summer offers more opportunities for fun in the sun, fall is hardly a time without celebration.
From tailgating burgers and beer to pizza and movies at home on Friday nights, Americans have plenty of opportunities to kick back, relax and enjoy comforting eats with family and friends as the months cool down and lead into holiday season. In turn, grocers have a tremendous opportunity to lift sales dramatically by offering the right products and activating creative promotions with their supplier partners.
Long known as a popular time for people to get their grill on, summer sees eight in 10 grillers planning to grill outdoors during holidays, new research from Jacksonville, Fla.-based marketing agency Acosta Sales & Marketing reveals. But fall isn’t the time when the urge to grill goes into hibernation: Most of those who grill still plan to do so when the weather starts growing crisper, with seven in 10 grillers expecting to grill in the autumn.
“Our research shows shoppers choose to grill for two primary reasons: It provides a better flavor than other cooking methods, and also gives them a chance to enjoy the outdoors,” says Josh Pelham, director of insights and strategy at Acosta. “However, it’s the flavor factor that shows why many people are opting to grill throughout the year, even when the weather might not be as ideal.”
A Time to Tailgate
Much of this fall grilling occurs as a result of the beginning of football season, when the national pastime of tailgating takes place. Acosta’s research shows that 61 percent of people who grill bring that experience to tailgating, with 29 percent grilling at a sports stadium or arena, and 40 percent doing so at home.
Meat has long been central in the world of grilling, with 45 percent of tailgate grillers choosing hot dogs or sausages, and 46 percent selecting hamburgers. What’s new, though, is the continued growing interest among consumers, particularly Millennials, in foods with higher protein content. This provides retailers with a powerful marketing message, according to Christine Tanner, brand manager at Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, in Arkansas City, Kan.
“Although alternative sources of protein continue to expand, meat is still the best source of protein, and we need to be telling that story,” Tanner says. “The story can be told through labeling, but a great strategy is to develop meat personnel as customer consultants to offer information, from cooking and grilling tips for tailgaters to explaining nutritional benefits.”
Tanner notes that her company works with retailers to pull together individual marketing plans that spotlight the meat department, raising awareness of different cuts and explaining how they can be prepared. It also serves consumers directly, providing educational support for them via how-to videos on its website.
“For instance, during tailgating season, we publish tailgating tips and videos through our social media that our retail partners can utilize as well,” she says. “We also offer a wide variety of products to enhance their assortment.”