Handicapping Super Bowl LII: Sports Bars Are The Underdog, As Grocery Store Visits Rise

While more people prefer to host or attend Super Bowl parties at home, local businesses in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and the Greater Boston area are all set to win this Sunday, Foursquare stats suggest.

Americans are projected to spend roughly $81.17 on average — for a collective $15.3 billion — as an estimated 188.5 million people watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl this Sunday, according the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

While viewership expected to be similar to last year’s championship, the NRF notes that total spending is up 8.5 percent from $14.1 billion in 2017.

But as Foursquare data points out, there will be clear winners and losers, according to an analysis of foot traffic for last year’s matchup between the Patriots and Atlanta Falcon in Houston, Tx.

Naturally, the hometowns of the teams — in this case, the Greater Boston area for the Patriots and Philadelphia for the Eagles — as well as the city where the game is played — this year in Minneapolis — local businesses are set to gain. Nevertheless, some businesses are likely to gain more than others.

Among the stats Foursquare found last year (and see how it matches up to GeoMarketing‘s take last year):

  • Grocers: Visits to grocery stores in and around Boston were up 14 percent on the Saturday before the Big Game, compared to a typical Saturday. On the day of the Big Game, they were up 16 percent over a typical Sunday.

Visits to grocery stores in Atlanta were up 26 percent on the Saturday before the Big Game over a typical Saturday. They also jumped 12 percent for that Sunday, marking an 18 percent overall lift for the entire weekend.

  • Spirits Shops: Foot traffic to liquor stores increased leading up to the Big Game as well. Visits were up 10 percent on the Saturday
prior as compared to a typical Saturday, and up 50 percent on game day over an average Sunday, marking a 20 percent average lift for the overall weekend.

Liquor store traffic was also up 27 percent over a typical Saturday. On the day of the Big Game, liquor store traffic jumped 42 percent over an average Sunday, and during the overall weekend, visits to liquor stores increased by 30 percent.

  • Sports Bars: While many fans likely tuned into the game at home, foot traffic to Boston sports bars was also up 24 percent relative to an average Sunday.

Foot traffic to Atlanta sports bars was up 20 percent for game day, relative to an average Sunday. The weekend overall had a 5 percent lift, due to a low performance on Saturday, potentially as fans started to party prep.

Looking at the NRF’s overview in advance of this Sunday’s game, of the 76 percent of those surveyed who plan to watch the Super Bowl, 82 percent say they will purchase food and beverages — up slightly from 80 percent last year — and the highest in the survey’s history.

According to the NRF survey, 18 percent (45 million) will host a Super Bowl party, with 28 percent (69 million) planning to attend one. Bars and restaurants will entice 5 percent (11 million) planning to watch at their favorite local spot.

“Consumers are carrying strong spending momentum from the holiday season into their Super Bowl festivities,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said in a statement. “This is evident through increased plans for purchasing while the number of viewers remains steady with last year. Fans aren’t afraid to spend a few extra dollars to make this year’s game the best one yet.”

Targeting Attendees In Minneapolis

Apart from the halo effect a major event like the Super Bowl shines on a host city, it’s also provides a significant boost from tourism spending that goes beyond the day of the game.

Super Bowl organizers estimate 1 million people will flock to the Twin Cities for the game and the 10 days leading up to it, reports Minneapolis’ local CBS TV station, WCCO.

While the organizers expect most Minneapolis Super Bowl attendees to come from the regional northern Midwest area, Foursquare notes that last year, the top cities sending tourists included New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Tampa, Chicago, and Miami, in addition to the teams’ hometown fans.

“Saturday is by far the biggest drinking night, with visits peaking to bars, lounges, and nightclubs as fans loosened up the night before,” Foursquare’s report says in looking back at last year’s Houston game.

“Before the game, we saw an increase in visits to convention centers, event spaces, and concert halls for the many sponsored events during the day leading up to kickoff. We also noticed a lift in foot traffic to barbeque joints, as fans got a taste of the local favor. After the Big Game, some folks headed straight back to their hotels for the night, while others headed out to the bars to celebrate.”

The Social Bowl

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are the bridge between online and offline for most entertainment and sports, and the Super Bowl represents a special focus, says interactive marketing and data shop SocialCode.

Given the roughly 2 billion people who use Facebook and Instagram, SocialCode offered its own ad statistics for how the brands it works with have been connecting with consumers during the playoff period:

An overall shift marketers need to keep in mind for Super Bowl 2018 and beyond…

  • SocialCode served 66 billion (!) impressions against millennials last year – the audience most engaged with sports online
  • Over 60 percent of those impressions were video, up from 44 percent in 2016
  • Instagram stories showed massive growth – SocialCode saw a 66 percent increase in adoption of stories in Q4 2017 — “a number we only anticipate to skyrocket as fans share their experience leading up to and during the big game!”

A Touchdown for Advertisers

This playoff season, football-related Instagram and Facebook ads garnered:

  • 85x higher click-through-rates
  • 2x higher engagement rates compared to content unrelated to football

Local Zest

In states with teams that made it to the playoffs, like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, we saw:

  • 35x more engagements (likes, comments, and shares) compared to the rest of the U.S.

It’s Game Day

Compared to days without games in the playoff season, ads launched on game days score a:

  • 12x increase in click-through-rate
  • 14x increase in engagement rate

“When people think of Super Bowl branding campaigns, broad targeting categories like ’21+ sports fans in the U.S.’ may come to mind, but our brands are striking a balance between broad and narrow targeting strategies this season. Oftentimes large CPG or beverage brands own numerous sub-brands, all of which are advertising during the Super Bowl,” says SocialCode in a blog post.

“To drive down costs and avoid portfolio competition (competing for ad inventory with your own sister brands), we recommend overlaying general interest groups to hit different pockets of the broad Super Bowl-viewing population,” SocialCode notes. “For example, if you are a company that owns two beverages, a low-calorie option and a sugary beverage, you may want to overlay fitness or demographic interests when targeting people for the former brand to avoid bidding against the same audience.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.