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A Go for Game Day — Deliveries, Snack Sales Grow

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Sep 30, 2021

In this article we look at what the return of the NFL and big Sunday game days mean for snacks and drinks sales on the Instacart marketplace. 

With around 15 million people, on average, watching each NFL game last season it’s hardly a hot-take to say that people like the sport. To the question so often asked ‘are you ready for some football?’ the answer for millions is ‘yes!’

Given the large audience for the average NFL game, and how the right snack can elevate gameday experience, we were interested to see if the return of the NFL and Sunday game days had an impact on the sales of snack and drink categories. As consumers shopped online for game day snacks from their favorite grocery retailer through the Instacart marketplace, were they driving any notable increases?

The lead-up to the first game of the season coincides with back to school season, which also drives sales growth in snacks and lunchbox items — see this article on it. So we looked at post-Labor Day week for trends correlated with Sunday game day watching. And with 2020 being so unusual, we looked back at 2019 data for a lot of our analysis.

When we looked at the week-over-week sales growth for the week of September 2nd — the week preceding NFL kickoff. We found several categories and super categories with double-digit growth. Cheese and popcorn was up 10%, dips/spreads 11%, and pizza 12%. Humus had the biggest gains with a WoW sales growth of 25% and seltzer water also notable at 18%. 

Some of us were surprised not to see potato chips, tortilla chips, and soft drinks, on this list. Were customers not buying chips for their game day snacks? That seemed unlikely. Looking back to the week before revealed the answer — with sales for these items high for Labor Day they didn’t have notable WoW sales growth ahead of the NFL kickoff. In fact, just maintaining these levels suggests chips and soft drinks were quite popular for that week despite not appearing in the list of top sales growth WoW.

And actually, looking at the search terms for these categories we found that there were the second-most searches for chips during the week leading up to game day out of any of the snack and drink categories we analyzed. 

This reveals an important facet of the work our team does. It’s not enough to just gather the data. While numbers don’t lie, they don’t always tell the whole story as we can see in this example. A lot of the work comes in during the analysis and interpretation of the data; recognizing what each measurement or type of analysis can tell us, and equally important, what they can’t, takes both skill and experience.

To better understand the impact of game day on these snack sales, we looked at when during the week these orders were happening — in other words, were consumers just ordering a lot of snacks throughout this week unrelated to the NFL kicking off again?

And what we found was that deliveries on NFL Sunday game day were 52% higher than the average of the previous two weeks. We also took a look at the sales lift for a bunch of game day snacks and drinks and noticed a clear pattern where snacks and beverages categories saw the greatest lift versus the prior week on game day itself. 

Taken together, the fact that deliveries were up on Sunday and snacks and beverages had the greatest lift compared to the prior week on Sunday, points to some hungry football fans buying their game day snacks online from their favorite grocery retailer through the Instacart marketplace and having them delivered. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how consumers shop online in categories relevant to your business, consider partnering with us

  

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