Football season is well under way and chances are your customers—whether they’re in the stands at a local high school game, tailgating before a college match up, or relaxing at home cheering on their favorite NFL team—are looking to you to help make Game Day a great one.
“Shopper insights indicate that roughly one in two shoppers watched NFL games and one in five watched college football (17.2 percent) last year—data that clearly underscores the opportunity retailers have in capitalizing on the popularity of football,” said Zach Nicolaides, shopper insights lead at Kraft Heinz.
Even people who aren’t football fans celebrate what’s known to some as one of the best eating occasions of the year: Super Bowl Sunday. According to the National Retail Federation, the Super Bowl ranks #10 in the top 10 spending events from last year, with three out of four adults surveyed saying they planned to watch the game.
According to Ryan McCann, global account director for Coca-Cola, the key to scoring big in football season is understanding your shoppers’ needs. “In the midst of a growing time-poor population, shoppers are looking for solutions and more seamless and convenient shopping experiences. Providing solutions for shoppers will translate into a better shopping experience and build loyalty,” he said.
Check out these tips from IGA retailers to help you become your shoppers’ destination of choice for their Game Day events.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS
Make your perimeter departments—filled with local, fresh offerings unique to your store—the first stop for party-planning shoppers.
- Provide options for feeding a crowd. Platters and trays are essential for big game-watching parties. Be ready with custom-order or ready-to-go platters and trays of cold cuts, cheese, fruits and veggies, as well as options for the grill.
At Leesburg IGA in Leesburg, Georgia, customers get rewarded for buying meat in bulk. Examples from recent ads: 40 pounds of fresh chicken wings or a choice of three different portioned-out meat boxes, handy for grilling season and large gatherings.
And of course, don’t forget to promote! Check out this fun, 30-second video posted by Bob’s Windham IGA in Willimantic, Connecticut, promoting one of the store’s football season deals on chicken wings and beer.
- Promote your specialty standouts. Do you make a mean sub or grinder? Offer the best hot, fresh pizza in town? Excel at sliders? Broadcast those signature items that fit nicely into Game Day party planning. At Bob’s Windham IGA, they call foot-long sandwiches grinders and sell a lot of them. “We sell more subs than Subway,” said Rob Buonomano, one of the store owners. For special occasions they make made-to-order grinder platters.
BUILD DAZZLING DISPLAYS
Make it easy for shoppers to grab the party planning essentials they need with one-stop-shopping, football-themed displays. “Nearly three-quarters of people shop the day before entertaining, and from our tests of display graphics, we know that 78 percent of respondents often stop to look at displays while shopping,” said Nicolaides.
- Create a Game Day headquarters. This starts with making a clear connection to the game or activity, such as creating a designated “Tailgating or Big Game Solution HQ” that stands out in the store. “One of the ways that I’ve seen retailers do a good job is executing a ‘game day’ bundle/solution in the lobby or perimeter,” said McCann.
Given that an elaborate display can be both time consuming and expensive, McCann stressed the need to work with your reps to help optimize your offering or promotion. “Your local Coca-Cola representatives are always looking for ways to merchandise and bundle our beverages with other products to drive sales,” he said. One example he gave is from KJ’s Market IGA in Hephzibah, Georgia. “This is a great example of leveraging the Coke relationship with ESPN/Share a Coke and making the connection with the local high school football schedule/team.”
Nicolaides of Kraft Heinz agrees, showing recent examples of brands like Planters, Heinz, Kraft, and Velveeta featured alongside football-themed imagery and accessories—think helmets, goal posts, and jerseys—to draw eyes to your display and help you attract top customers (like millennial moms and men of all ages).
- Give out samples. This past Super Bowl season, Archie’s IGA in Saint Maries, Idaho went all out with Big Game samples, dressing up tables and blowing up football-shaped balloons. Customers could taste different dips, spreads, BBQ sauces, meats, and even beer.
LEND YOUR LOCAL SUPPORT
Rooting for the home team comes naturally to IGA independent retailers, who sponsor and support all manners of local and regional sports throughout the year, from Little League to college teams. Demonstrate your team spirit to shoppers, both in the store and in the community.
- Show your school colors. Mahomet IGA in Mahomet, Illinois has two great teams to promote: the University of Illinois Illini and the local high school team, the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs. The store, which works with a local supplier to secure merchandise for both teams, has become the community's main resource for team apparel.
- Get out to the games. Once a year, the folks at Ptacek’s IGA in Prescott, Wisconsin head out to a local football game at University of Wisconsin at River Falls and shower the crowd with frozen pizzas and other giveaways. One of the fun things they do at these events is hand out their signature house-made beef sticks with a shout out to players who are also part-time workers at Ptacek’s. In place of the ingredients label, they put mini-bios of each of the Ptacek’s team members.