How are organic, vegan, and health-conscious shoppers changing Thanksgiving shopping baskets?

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages /Liliboas
©GettyImages /Liliboas

Related tags: Turkey, Thanksgiving

Catalina, a firm specializing in shopper intelligence data and insights, spotted three emerging "shopper personalities" when it comes to Thanksgiving day shopping: organic seekers, vegan lifestyles, and heart healthy seekers, each with their own brand and product preferences.

The “organic seeker”​ is 6x more likely to buy an organic store turkey and the rest of its food items to complete the Thanksgiving meal follow suit with organic brands:



The leading examples of brands for the “vegan lifestyle” consumer include Tofurkey vegetarian roast and other alternative proteins such as black bean patties and tofu.



“Heart healthy seekers”​ seem to be less concerned with organic designations and other label claims and are more likely to purchase the store brand when it comes to the turkey, canned vegetables, and ready-made mashed potatoes.



Retailers and brands can use insights into cross-category shopper preferences like these to better personalize and target their offers and advertising to the right shoppers to grow customers and sales volume, said Catalina.

Additional insights:

The American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) annual informal survey​ -- 166 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 37 states -- on Thanksgiving day spending found that the average cost of this year's Thanksgiving meal has declined three years in a row to $48.90 for 10 people, the lowest level it's been since 2010. AFBF survey includes the price of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin with whipped cream, and coffee and milk. 

According to the survey, turkey cost 3% less than last year: $21.71 for a 16-pound bird. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest they've been since 2014.

“Thanks to an ample supply, turkey remains affordable for consumers, which helps keep the overall cost of the dinner reasonably priced as well,”​ AFBF chief economist Dr. John Newton, said. 

Turkey encourages more spending 

During the weeks leading to Thanksgiving, said Catalina, just 8% of shoppers spend more than $100 during a trip. However, when a turkey is in the basket, the total shopping receipt grows by 42% -- 2% of baskets exceed $200 versus 11% of baskets with turkey.

It’s not just the turkey that hikes up dollar spending, Catalina shopper data revealed that certain grocery items are much more likely to be added to the shopping cart when turkey is present.

Traditional Thanksgiving standbys including gravy mix (16x more likely to be purchased with turkey) such as stuffing (15x), cranberry sauce (13x), refrigerated potato side dishes (12x), and salad toppings are 10x more likely to be in baskets with turkeys than in the average basket during the same period.  According to Catalina data, 22.5% of all turkey baskets also include stuffing and more than 14% of those baskets also include gravy mixes and canned cranberries.

There are also other items that tend to move off the shelf when shoppers purchase turkey including canned olives, frozen pies, canned hams, frozen rolls, refrigerate side dishes, and instant mashed potato mixes.

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