Score Your Invite to Shoppers’ Holiday Tables

    Thanksgiving table with turkey and other key holiday dishes

    By NCS Marketing

    For American consumers, the holidays are spent with their most important friends and family. For CPG brands, the holidays can be made with their most important buyers. 

    And it looks like Holiday 2021 will be a big one for both groups: 90% of Americans plan to do the same or more cooking as last year, and 93% plan to spend the same or more on food items for their holiday meals, according to our latest consumer survey. The question is, how can CPG brands score an invite to the holiday table?

    We asked consumers what they thought about holiday advertising, and nearly half (47%) stated they enjoy holiday ads. One-third (33%) even said that holiday ads put them in the right mood for the season.

    47% of Americans enjoy seeing holiday ads, and they plan to cook and spend more in Holiday 2021

    With Americans resuming more traditional Thanksgiving gatherings this year, nearly half (46%) plan to buy products that remind them of their childhood, up from 34% for Thanksgiving 2020. So there you have it—give the people what they want! Using a nostalgic approach to messaging this holiday could help CPG brands remind their best consumers to buy. 

    Americans plan to buy CPG products they usually purchase and nostalgic foods for Thanksgiving 2021

    As brands look to inspire cheer (and consumer spend) this season through holiday ads, they’ll find their consumers especially receptive on cooking websites, social media, how-to videos and TV. 


    Thanksgiving: A CPG Holiday 

    CPG marketers are grateful for Thanksgiving sales. NCS purchase data shows that overall CPG spending was 13% greater the week of Thanksgiving 2019 than the average week in 2019—and that is a lot to be grateful for. In spite of the pandemic irregularities of Thanksgiving 2020, CPG spending was 16% greater the week of the holiday than when compared to an average week in 2020, and 7% greater than Thanksgiving 2019.

    Thanksgiving CPG spend was 7% greater in 2020 than in 2019, with high growth from meat, beer and herbs

    What Turkey Day foods will be in high demand this year? Unsurprisingly, turkey is the favorite food, beloved by 66% of Americans—and tied with mashed potatoes. November 2021 purchase data indicators already reveal big sales numbers this Thanksgiving (frozen turkey sales were 27% higher year-over-year in the first two weeks of November 2021). 

    For Thanksgiving 2021, America's favorite foods are turkey and mashed potatoes

    If you’re curious about the NCS team’s favorite holiday foods, check out some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

    Your Place On Your Loyal Buyers’ Tables

    As Americans plan their shopping lists to secure their favorites from potatoes to pie, what factors will influence the brands they choose? We found that 11% of consumers are game to try new CPG products this Thanksgiving, and even though the majority of Americans (62%) plan to buy the CPG products they usually purchase, their favorites might be harder to find. With potential supply chain issues, rising food costs and many grocery store shelves more bare than usual, consumers will have to rely on the increased flexibility and product sampling they have adopted since the start of the pandemic. And CPG brands will have to fight just as hard for their customers’ business this holiday. 

    A balanced approach of serving ads to those samplers without alienating loyal buyers will help brands spread both holiday cheer and loyalty this season.

    As you look to drive sales among your best buyers this holiday, check out our playbook for audience activation ideas and strategies.


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