Over the next several months, more than 20 million people will engage in some form of tailgating activity, according to the Tailgating Industry Association, which estimates that $35 billion is spent on food and beverages for tailgating every year.

Football, including high school, college and professional, remains the sporting event most closely tied to tailgating, but during the winter months, basketball and hockey fans have taken tailgating off-site to college dorms, “man caves” and backyards. Home tailgating, for all sporting events, continues to be on the upswing.

Tailgaters vary demographically, so understanding the customer base of your store is important. While more men are tailgaters, their wives or girlfriends may be the actual buyers of the supplies, so understand who is shopping for the items in your store.

According to a study conducted by Quicken Loans Racing and Beckon Media, an astonishing 80 percent of Americans have tailgated in the past year.

  • 93 percent of tailgaters prepare their food on site.
  • 61 percent of Americans tailgate five or more times each year.
  • 58 percent of football tailgaters are male, and 42 percent are female.
  • 47 percent of tailgaters say the food and beverage supplies are purchased by both the husband and the wife.
  • 25 percent of football tailgaters have a household income of $100,000 or more.
Source: Football vs. Nascar Tailgating Infographic, Quicken Loans and Beckon Media 2012


How to Be a Culinary Concierge

One important aspect of serving the booming tailgating business is to understand the opportunity and how to set up your operations to take full advantage.

For the 2015 Dairy, Deli, Bake Seminar and Expo in Atlanta, the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association developed several case concepts with actionable ideas to feature in the Show & Sell Center. Under the broad theme of Culinary Concierge, each case concept was designed to target Millennials with inspiration and easy preparation ideas for dairy, deli and bakery departments to leverage. To help deepen understanding around Millennial needs, and to test appeal and relevance of the concepts, IDDBA engaged Hartman Group in a consumer-based exploration.

Among the case concepts covered, the pickup station in the instore deli/bakery is the one that involves tailgaters. The pickup station is the place where online orders can be picked up. It will be a version of personal chef services, which can include complete weekly menus and premade sandwiches. Appetizer and dessert items can also be ordered, and menu items are customizable.

This concept is good for busy schedules. Shoppers can jump online to create orders to the exact specifications of each member in the party, either on their way home from work, at the store and pick up customized, complete meals for tailgating at home or away. Customization is important for health and dietary needs as well as personal flavor preferences. Offering complete meals, including appetizer and dessert items, adds convenience to large meal planning.

As for key considerations, the pickup station is perceived by consumers as a high-cost option that would suit families, large get-togethers, meetings, or parties. Online ordering wasn’t desired by most participants due largely to feeling that personal interaction would elevate errors in ordering.

Online ordering is often associated with delivery service with easy-to-navigate websites. Participants didn’t equate online ordering with grocery fresh prepared foods. It’s an impersonal option that requires extra effort on the part of the foodservice provider to ensure high-quality food will be served as the customer desires, on time, every time via well-produced website and mobile experiences. Online ordering, for this reason, is considered an opportunistic white space for grocers.

When Millennials have the time, they are open to new and engaging store experiences. They are often looking for personal connection within the deli and other service areas of the store. They enjoy browsing the aisles and deli, getting inspiration for their nightly or weekly meal planning. The supermarket becomes a destination location.

But on those hectic days, the supermarket is simply a means to an end. Having ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, and ready-to-assemble items that can be mixed and matched is essential for time-crunched Millennials who desire a variety of food options and flavors that are quick and convenient, at a fair price.