By targeting tailgaters, manufacturers can extend the grilling season and their sales

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Acosta
Source: Acosta

Related tags: Barbecue

While backyard barbeques and picnics are hallmarks of prime grilling season, which is in full swing now, marketers can extend grilling’s appeal and their sales beyond the end of summer by tapping into tailgating, suggests new research from Acosta. 

The full service sales and marketing agency’s 2016 grilling survey revealed that nine out of 10 grillers enjoying cooking outside during key summer holidays – most likely as a way to enjoy the outdoors and the warmer weather.

But Acosta also found that most consumers don’t stop grilling after Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Rather, 69% of respondents grill eight or more months of the year, according to the survey.

And a whopping 61% of respondents say they enjoy grilling as a way to tailgate around sporting events – even in cooler months, which Acosta notes is “one way that this method of cooking has gained year-around popularity.”

Brands looking to capitalize on this trend should also note that “tailgating”​ doesn’t necessarily mean grilling in a parking lot at a stadium. Rather, Acosta found that 40% of respondents grill at home, compared to 29% who do so at arenas – further expanding the target consumer-base for advertising.

What tailgaters want

Just like with traditional backyard barbeques and picnics, most grillers who tailgate reach for familiar, easy to prepare and eat options. Specifically, 45% will prepare hamburgers, 45% will opt for hotdogs and sausages and 45% want chicken wings, according to the report.

Grab and go snacks and traditional sides also are popular choices for tailgaters. Acosta found 67% of tailgaters munch on chips, pretzels and other salty snacks during the event and more than 50% want dips.

But it isn’t all about indulgence. The report also found 51% of tailgaters like salads at the event, while another 51% said they like veggie trays and 44% said they like fruit or fruit trays.

Reach tailgaters in advance

Tailgaters may prefer easy-to-prep options, but most still plan ahead – giving marketers a chance to reach them in advance of shopping.

The top factors that tailgaters consider when selecting their menu are personal preference and taste (75%), quantity (57%) and how long it takes to prep dishes (55%), according to the report.

Given Americans’ increased interest in experimentation, brands should think outside of the box to show grillers how to use familiar favorites in potentially unexpected ways.

One brand that is doing that is the beverage company Big Red, which teamed with “hardcore carnivore”​ and Texas BBQ expert Jess Pryles to show how the soda complements sweet and savory barbeque. Pryles created rib glaze and other recipes using Big Red soda as a way to boost sales and consumer enjoyment. 

Other brands tap into tailgating by signing athletes as brand ambassadors and using sports themed imagery on their packaging. 

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