Tailgate Grillers Go Gourmet

Discussion
Sep 13, 2010
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

According to a survey by grill maker Weber, 22 percent of tailgaters consider themselves to be “gourmet” food grillers
while 28 percent consider themselves “between a gourmet and a basics” griller.

The
survey found “basics” tailgate grillers spend an average of
$441 in groceries per year for their parking lot parties while “gourmet” tailgaters
spend an average of $1,001. That equals out to $106 per tailgate for the basics
group versus $165 among the gourmets.  Gourmet grillers’ tailgates host an
average of 20 people per party versus 14 for basics grillers.

Chicken (43 percent)
tops the list of gourmet grillers’ favorite foods, followed by ribs (39 percent),
bratwurst (37 percent), and steak (33 percent). Basic grillers list hamburgers
(70 percent), bratwurst (45 percent), chicken (42 percent), and hot dogs (42
percent). Gourmet grillers are also more likely than basic grillers to use
skewers (62 percent versus 40 percent), wood chips (49 percent compared to
30 percent), and a meat thermometer (45 percent vs. 29 percent.)

Other findings
from the survey:


  • Overall, 12.5 percent of Americans over age 18 have tailgated in the last
    12 months, attending an average of 3.4 tailgates each. Those ages 24-34
    are more likely to tailgate (19 percent), followed by those ages 18-24 (17
    percent), and 35-44 (16 percent).
  • When asked how they’ve changed their tailgate grilling style in the last
    year, 35 percent of respondents said they’re getting “more adventurous” in
    their parking lot party food choices. Forty percent report they’re grilling
    more vegetables; more sides (40 percent); leaner meats (35 percent), more
    poultry (28 percent); and more fish (19 percent).
  • Two-thirds of all U.S. tailgate grillers bought their barbecue expressly
    for their parking lot parties, up from 46 percent in a 2005 survey.
  • Regarding new media, 49 percent report using smart phones when tailgating;
    48 percent report using grilling/food/recipe apps; and 47 percent report
    using laptop computers while tailgating.

Discussion Questions:  What do you think of the gourmet opportunity around
tailgating? What can grocers be doing to capitalize on tailgating and football-themed
parties?

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11 Comments on "Tailgate Grillers Go Gourmet"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

OK–let’s ignore the math errors for the moment or the assumptions that gourmet tailgaters tailgate twice as often as basic tailgaters. There is clearly a difference of opinion as to what constitutes tailgating. In the South, we’d be as inclined to shoot as spurn someone who used skewers. And the only reason one would have chicken at a tailgate is if they were trying to appeal to women (which would continue to violate some of the basic tenets of tailgating). And when was the last time even your most basic burger flipper didn’t think he was a gourmet?

Retailers–you want to tap into tailgating, work the bundle and make it easier for the guy going shopping to get everything they need in one place at a great price.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Retailers can capture a greater share of the tailgating market by making it easy for consumers to quickly find what they need, in the sizes they need it and by providing tips for tailgaters to try new recipes and ingredients. This will make it easier for tailgaters to experiment.

They should also use their websites for tailgaters to post their favorite recipes and stage promotions for tailgaters to show off their skills, both at the games and in retailers’ parking lots.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Tailgating is a moderately big opportunity in the seasonal specialty business especially during football season. This is where national retailers need to have an awareness and ability to do some micro-marketing and merchandising in certain stores where appropriate. Gourmet tailgaters are one segment of this otherwise basic market that should be pursued every weekend in fitting store environments.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 7 months ago

I initially thought that this was a “tongue in cheek” survey meant to give us all a little chuckle…well I chuckled anyway. There is nothing like a bevy of statistics designed to support a presumption.

That said, I do feel that this is an opportunity for retailers in the sense that it provides another seasonal merchandising promotional and marketing opportunity. Bundling, as one of my esteemed colleagues mentions, is a great idea. Bringing together diverse elements of a successful tailgating event with appropriate point-of-sale support can help to drive multiple purchases and build the market basket.

Retailers who can successfully centrally merchandise targeted general merchandise (chairs, local team products, coozies, etc) along with both the consumables and grocery needs can succeed in capturing a larger share of that customer’s pocket book through impulse purchasing and total shopping list fulfillment.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Seems to me that “gourmet tailgating” is a bit of an oxymoron. Plus, it takes all the fun out of the event.

Tailgating is an activity that grew up around getting a good parking place, I think. It also creates a sense of community. But gourmet tailgating? When I think about it, I cannot find any images in the databanks of my mind that are anything but bizarre.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 7 months ago

Hot Dogs, Budweiser, Parking Lot Sociality and Rough Football are the strong fan magnets of enjoyment but they don’t necessarily bond with Gourmet Grilling.

Add the increasing use of cell phones and the new inventions of technology while grilling a few new veggies and you have have a $100+ sought after FUN TIME before some gory gridiron glory with family and friends in the stadium parking lot. That makes Saturdays and Sundays worthwhile to millions of sports addicts who represent a substantial market. But that still falls short of gourmet.

Nonetheless these socio-sports activities do represent seasonal sales opportunities for tuned-in food retailers, who should accommodate this cultured demand for football, Budweiser and hot dogs…and possibly a few steaks.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
10 years 7 months ago

Well, I guess it depends on the definition of “tailgater.” At Packers games, some really nice bratwurst might qualify. But seriously, having a “tailgate” section or party area in the store with high quality foods has been done in the past. If by high quality foods they mean steak and shrimp, then have special deals on those items, in bulk packaging the day before the games. Or throw in some extras at low prices.

However, since attendance in person has been going down over the past few years (NFL is down nearly 4%) and this is mostly due to the cost, I think the “gourmet tailgater” will fizzle out pretty soon.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Tailgating and gourmet in the title? That has to be read twice. Don’t all tailgaters think they are at the least “tailgating gourmets”? What makes anyone think tailgating at a football game has to be gourmet? What it has to be is tasty, fast and convenient to find when shopping for the needed items. Tailgating is meant to be fun and exciting. Get your hands dirty. Drink beer, soda and maybe wine. (Wine does not make it gourmet.) Eat hamburgers and hot dogs, burp and go enjoy the game.

I have an apron I wear when I tailgate. Does that make me a gourmet?

Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
10 years 7 months ago

I think some people have a rather outdated perception of tailgating. The modern tailgate includes everything from flat screen TVs with satellite dishes to fillet Mignon and London broil, but the real beauty of tailgating are the regional specialties: lobster, crabcakes, brats, salmon, ribs, brisket, all things cajun, etc. Throw in every region’s popular microbrews and it’s clearly not your father’s tailgate.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 7 months ago

This is one of those occasion based shopping trips where retailers who bring it together can really get a return. At a conference a few years ago, a Walmart exec from the Texas area discussed the local WM approach. They took everything from the everyday displays on Thursday night and set up shop for the weekend games. Everything from the food, snacks, coolers, and ice, to jerseys and lawn chairs was in easy reach. They tore it down every Sunday night–said huge crowds came in because it was one stop for all that was needed.

Seemed like a good and local opportunity to merchandise for tailgaitng events–there isn’t too much that would be over the top for these fun events, if you know your target consumers.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 7 months ago

What is a gourmet tailgater? Is that someone in Denver or San Fran? What is a basic tailgater? Is that someone in Green Bay or Cleveland? We need some more detailed definitions here.

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