Game Day Trends and Gopuff: Tackling Consumer Behavior

We analyzed our customer data to see how game day affects shopping trends. Here are 5 key trends we’re noticing this football season

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Gopuff and game day go together like Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, or popular football snacks Bud Light and Funyuns (we’ll explain that one later). Though tailgate season has looked a bit different this fall, it’s clear that our customers have remained committed to supporting their teams with drinks in hand and snacks in… mouth?

Using our first-party customer data, Gopuff’s integrated data and research practice has identified five key trends from both college and NFL game days this season. 

Afternoon Games vs. Sunday Night Football

It’s no secret that the vibe is different early Sunday afternoon vs. Sunday evening. Clean slate vs. the big event. Fantasy team optimism vs. despair. Scott Hanson vs. No Scott Hanson. 

But what about shopping habits? Are football fans ordering different things for day games than they are for night games? Actually, yes they are.

An analysis of nearly half a million orders this season shows that alcohol is the common thread among the 1pm, 4pm, and 8pm NFL games. While popular during each of these windows, it is slightly more likely to be preferred for the day games.  

Sunday mornings are the prime time for those pregame errands that set the day up for success. Shoppers are more likely to purchase home essentials like paper towels, cups and trash bags, and health and beauty items like deodorant and soap between 9 am and noon. Can’t start Sunday without shaking off Saturday night.

And after a long day of tackles and touchdowns, Gopuff customers chill out for Sunday Night Football, especially when it comes to football Sunday snacks. Fifty-four percent of this season’s Sunday ice cream sales have occurred in the Sunday Night Football window, unmatched by any other class of products.

These shoppers also have a clear preference for Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked during the night game, ordering enough of it this season to give every player on your favorite team 61 pints for himself. Now that is a lot of Vermont’s Finest.

A pint of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream

Shopper behavior changes over the course of a football Sunday and advertisers should not treat all hours and dayparts equally. As shoppers have been emboldened by the COVID-19 pandemic to instantly fulfill their needs with services like Gopuff, brands must promote their products as close to shoppers’ moments of intention as possible. Doing so will flip the switch from thought to purchase, driving incremental revenue and brand loyalty.

Covering the Spread

Certain football snacks like Tostitos Scoops & Salsa con Queso Medium are evergreen. But what other pairings are coming to Sunday spreads nationwide? A careful analysis of orders this season indicates that customers are willing to curate their own food and drink bundles, no matter how unconventional they may be. Here are some unique but surprisingly common combos this season:

Bud Light and Funyuns

White Claw and Strawberry Pedialyte

Gatorade Frost Glacier Freeze and Haribo Gummi Bears

Slim Jims and Sabra Hummus

White Castle Sliders and King Size Reese’s Cups

It’s the customer’s playbook, we’re just making it happen. And if they need Pepto Bismol for some of these game time snacks and drinks, we’ll make that happen too.

In addition to these daring duos, customers have not been shy about their love of Pepsi this football season. America’s fizzy friend has been no stranger to baskets nationwide this season, as customers have found different ways to round out their game day spread.

In Chicago, Pepsi has been purchased alongside Waterloo Grapefruit Sparkling Water while fans in Phoenix have paired the drink with Dr. Pepper, Sprite, and Coca-Cola. Pretty good hydration for a city in the desert if you ask us.

Seltzer Takes a Stand

Is there anything better than cracking open an ice cold drink at kickoff? The pizza rolls are pipping hot and your team hasn’t started losing yet. (Too soon, Jets fans?) If Bob Ross were painting this picture, the only thing he’d add are some happy little White Claws. 

Continuing its legacy as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Gopuff world, White Claw is also the game day alcohol of choice of fans across the country. In fact, one of Gopuff’s Philadelphia micro-fulfillment centers is the No. 1 physical retailer of White Claw in the United States and is only getting stronger. A same-store analysis shows that relative to the 2019 football season, Gopuff customers have placed 96% more hard/spiked beverage orders as a whole, headlined by a 175% increase in White Claw sales volume.

But what about football and beer? Isn’t beer the King of Game Days? Well, not quite. Beer was the King of Game Days. While the pandemic accelerated the growth of both domestic beer and spiked seltzers, it further perpetuated the latter’s recent lead.

The average customer is ordering beer about as frequently as they were last year, whereas spiked seltzer has seen a small increase. Spiked seltzer baskets are also 28% larger than their domestic beer equivalents this football season. Together, these insights show seltzer buyers ordering much larger baskets slightly more frequently, a winning combination for low-calorie alternatives.

Saturday Popcorn and Sunday Coffee

If brick-and-mortar retailers logged every single question asked by a shopper to a store associate, they could easily figure out which items should be made more salient in the shopping journey. Here at Gopuff, we use customer searches as a way to discern purchase intent, identify trends and uncover untapped opportunities.

When it comes to college football game day and NFL game day, the top customer searches are the same. Shoppers primarily search for water, chips, ice cream, and beer on weekend afternoons during the season.

However, what’s interesting is what comes after the top-tier items. Whereas “coffee” is the #7 most-searched term on NFL Sundays, it falls to #18 on college football Saturdays. Conversely, “popcorn” is the #10 most-searched term on college football Saturdays but falls to #19 on NFL Sundays. 

Beer preferences also change with the teams on the field. Gopuff shoppers are more likely to order hard seltzers and domestic beer on college football Saturdays, while craft beers are preferred on Sundays and Monday nights. For our Philly fans out there, we recommend the Evil Genius Purple Monkey Dishwasher. Unlike the Eagles, it will never let you down.

A 6-pack of Evil Genius Purple Monkey Dishwasher beer

Conversations in the Digital Domain

As seen above, transactional data only tells part of the story. By layering behavioral and attitudinal data as well, Gopuff is able to paint a complete picture of the shopping journey, customer mindset, and prevailing need states. Without a truly holistic understanding of its shoppers, a retailer’s knowledge of its consumer can be as opaque as Andy Reid’s face shield

Enter online conversations. To complete the picture of the game day consumer, Gopuff partnered with 113 Industries to better understand how shoppers are speaking online on NFL Sundays.

According to the research, digital conversations surrounding hard seltzers build throughout the week and peak on Sundays. Customers are both buying and discussing these products, presenting a key opportunity for brands to get their products in front of shoppers when it matters most.

Consumers certainly seem to make the most of their Sundays, as evidenced by online conversations surrounding fitness and healthy lifestyles bottoming out on Sundays before rebounding on Mondays.

Paired with the insights on hard seltzer conversations, it’s clear that the football-first mindset reigns supreme over many consumers on the weekends and presents a barrier that marketers must break through in order to have their message heard. In short, everyone is gathered around the TV but is anyone listening?

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