Acosta’s 12th edition of The Why? Behind The Buy reveals 39% of shoppers grill all year and 61% grill at least eight months out of the year – far exceeding the three official months of summer when most manufacturers and retailers focus on outdoor cooking.
“Grilling is popular as a year-round cooking method, so food manufacturers and retailers can promote grilling items in the spring, fall and winter – beyond the traditional Memorial Day to Labor Day timeframe – and still drive sales,” Acosta Director Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder told FoodNavigator-USA.
To maximizing sales related to grilling beyond summer barbeques, she suggested food manufacturers “explore themes that are relevant to your shoppers or region, like fall tailgating and spring family get-togethers or picnics.”
Flavor and spice firm McCormick & Company is taking a pole position for marketing during a longer grilling season. Last March, the firm announced it would aggressively pursue an earlier grilling season with its new line of Grill Mates, sauces and co-branded Blue Moon blends.
Companies can further benefit from the extended grilling season by promoting popular grilling items, such as proteins, as fast meal solutions for busy families, Quinlan-Sacksteder said.
The research also revealed that the most popular items for grilling – and therefore those most well-suited for related promotions – include hamburgers, which 80% of grillers prepared in the last six months. Chicken came in second with 77% of respondents preparing it, followed by beef steak and hotdogs/sausages, which were each cooked by 66% of American grillers.
The survey also found grillers are branching out and grilling more seafood (31%), vegetables (46%) and fruit (10%).
Who to target
Marketers likely will have better luck targeting millennials, males and families with children, as these groups are more likely to grill, according to the survey.
Also, shoppers in the South Central and Western regions are most likely to cook outdoors most of the year – suggesting targeted regional marketing will be more effective than a nationwide blanket approach.
That said, they should not write off shoppers in the Plains and Great Lakes regions, even though these areas are colder, because they did not have the lowest usage level grilling, Acosta reported.
Finally, the survey found the type of grill most commonly used varied by region, which could influence stocking and marketing strategies.
Specifically, it found grillers in the Plains and Southeast are more likely to use smokers compared to those in the Northeast who favor gas grills and those in the Mid-West who use charcoal grills.