Almost half (47%) of American consumers say they enjoy holiday food advertising, with one-third (33%) saying it puts them in the right mood for the season, according to a new holiday-focused consumer sentiment survey from New York-based NCSolutions (NCS), a leading company for improving advertising effectiveness for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.
Among the findings of the November 2021 consumer survey: nine out of 10 (90%) of Americans plan to cook the same amount or more this holiday season. In addition, 83% say they plan to spend the same or more on their holiday meals. That’s up 10% from NCSolutions’ 2020 survey in which 73% said their overall spending on Thanksgiving items would be the same or more than they spent in 2019.
“Historically, Thanksgiving is the third biggest week of the year in terms of consumer packaged goods spending,” said Linda Dupree, CEO, NCSolutions, in a statement. “The good news for CPG brands is that early indicators are exhibiting that spending trend again this year.”
Looking back a few years to 2019, NCS purchase data shows that overall CPG spending was 13% greater the week of Thanksgiving than the average week in 2019. In 2020, spending was 16% greater than an average week in 2020.
Traditional foods still will take up prime real estate on Thanksgiving tables, according to the survey. Turkey, the perennial favorite Thanksgiving staple, slipped slightly, with just 66% of consumers in the latest consumer sentiment survey saying it was their favorite food, down from 70% from last year. Consumers continued to rank mashed potatoes (66%), gravy (61%) and stuffing/dressing (61%) as their favorite holiday foods.
As Thanksgiving shopping lists are being written, familiar and nostalgic products and brands will be at the top. Sixty-two percent of Americans plan to purchase food items for their Thanksgiving meal that they usually buy while almost half (46%) will seek foods that remind them of their childhood. Name brands are on the agenda for more than one-third (34%) of Americans and one out of four (25%) of consumers have plans to purchase healthy foods for their Thanksgiving celebrations.
When it comes to actually preparing the “Turkey Day” dishes, Americans plan to turn to media sources this year for help. According to the survey, more than one-third (35%) of consumers will look to cooking websites as the top source for inspiration. Americans also say they plan to use social media (28%), “how-to” videos (25%) and TV (23%) to help plan for and prepare their Thanksgiving meal.
Shopping location planning in 2021 remains consistent with the findings of the 2020 survey. Two-thirds (67%) plan on doing their shopping at grocery stores, 59% anticipate buying at superstores, while 16% plan to buy food for the holiday online.
2021 is a year to shop early. Many Thanksgiving categories have already surpassed 2020 spending levels according to NCS purchase data. For example: sales for frozen poultry (+27%), frozen meat (+9%), frozen vegetables (+10%) and baking supplies (+20%) are all greater in the first two weeks of November than at the same time last year, indicating that consumers have been starting early to stock up for their Thanksgiving meals.
“While this Thanksgiving does feel more ‘normal’ than last year, pandemic circumstances remain. Inflation has made food more expensive and for some buyers that increase will change their product selection. Also, supply chain shortages threaten to limit a loyal customer’s ability to purchase their holiday brand of choice,” Dupree said. “These two factors continue to play out a brand loyalty disruption we have seen since the start of COVID. Pandemic circumstances compel a consumer to sample new products—to make up for the higher price or empty shelf. For a CPG brand, this season, holiday ads are even more important to defend your spend, delight your buyers and maintain your loyal customers in the long term.”