Social aspects of grilling create year-round marketing opportunities for brands, retailers, Acosta finds

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Social aspects of grilling create marketing opportunities, Acosta says
For many Americans grilling is more than a means to put dinner on the table – it is a way to celebrate special occasions and everyday joys with friends, family and neighbors – creating an extended marketing opportunity for brands and retailers alike, according to new research from Acosta. 

The full-service and marketing agency’s third annual grilling insights revealed that nearly half of American grocery shoppers (47%) say grilling is a tradition for them, and 43% feel it is “more sociable than other methods of cooking.”

As such, many shoppers enjoy grilling as a way to celebrate annual holidays, according to the survey. It found the biggest grilling days are the Fourth of July, when 80% of shoppers said they grill, Memorial Day (78%) and Labor Day (73%). But, the survey also revealed less obvious celebrations that Americans mark by grilling, including Mother’s Day (44%), Father’s Day (53%), birthdays (58%), sporting events (42%) and more general family reunions and picnics (63%).

Many respondents also said they don’t need a special occasion to grill, and mentioned they grill “whenever the mood hits,”​ and “any day of the week, not just holidays,”​ according to the survey.

“The social aspect of grilling is significant from a business perspective because it offers many marketing opportunities,”​ such as for co-branding, cross-marketing and bundling items for grilling and celebrations, Colin Stewart, senior VP of Acosta, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained, “Grilling engages the household in the process, as it can be tied to other friends/family participating in the meal experience, with even a higher percentage of grillers with kids in their household (52% vs 43%) agreeing that ‘grilling is more sociable.’”

As such, he said, “grilling experiences could include dining outdoors, near the grill, so there are cross promotion opportunities beyond just food and beverage complements, including tableware, grilling tools, serving ware and other outdoor dining accessories.”

Grilling is an all-year affair for many

The social aspects of grilling also mean the cooking technique is not limited to summer, and neither should marketing efforts related to it, Stewart said.

“Retailers and manufacturers should take advantage of merchandising items that fit for grilling beyond the ‘major’ summer holidays and throughout the year,”​ he said, noting 71% of respondents said they grill eight or more months a year and 42% said they grill all year.

“Focusing only on the leading summer holidays is missing many grilling occasions,”​ such as grilling for sporting events and games, he said, adding that 31% of grillers do so while tailgating.

In addition, households with children are more likely to grill year round with 49% saying they grill 12 months of the year, Stewart said. This means angling marketing towards family-fun or inclusive of children during the less obvious grilling season may be a strategy for reaching these consumers.

Year round marketing strategies

Other ways to reach grillers is through digital media, according to the Acosta survey, which found 45% of respondents find grilling ideas online, while 39% do so from cooking shows and 24% from food company websites with recipe ideation.

“Additional opportunities would be to deliver grilling ideas on packaging/coupons, grill manufacturer inserts/website, charcoal/seasoning wood chip websites/packaging, linking to grilling tools (like the Bluetooth connected Weber iGrill), as well as food preparation accompaniments like barbecue sauce, steak sauce and spices/seasonings/rubs,”​ Stewart said.

Companies already successfully doing this include spice giant  McCormick & Company, which has a special section on its website titled ‘Earn Backyard Bragging Rights’​ with grilling tips and tricks with directions/videos on rubs, stuffing a burger, marinades, beer can chicken, fish/seafood, how to grill with a wood seasoning plant and many other ideas, he said.

Stewart also pointed to Ball Park’s website, which features a section with Grill Tips that provides advice on how to give patties smoky flavor and how to properly thaw hot dogs.

“They’ve collected handy tips to help master the art of grilling,”​ he said. 

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