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Super Bowl 2021: What to Expect from Consumer Behavior

Erin Ollila
February 04, 2021

3 minute read

Super Bowl 2021 won’t look the same as previous years. First, bleachers will appear sparse as only 22,000 fans will be in attendance — and one-third of them will be vaccinated healthcare frontline workers who were gifted tickets by the NFL. But it’s not just the number of people attending the big game that’s changed. It’s how consumers will show up to watch the big game and what they’re doing to prepare that’s pivoting because of the pandemic.

Consumers are still planning on celebrating

According to NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics’ 2021 Super Bowl survey, 186.6 million U.S. adults report that they plan to tune in to this year’s football game.

Super Bowl 2021 parties are still happening, but they might not look the same as they did in recent years. A Shopkick survey of 14,000 consumers found that 86% planned to watch the game at home this year. To make it feel more celebratory, some people plan on video conferencing with friends and family. A recent Oracle study found that 8% of consumers plan on going to a virtual Super Bowl party.

Food and drinks will still be a huge part of the celebration

With parties looking different this year, one might think that the food and beverages purchased or ordered will vary, too. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Appetizers, snacks, and game day treats will still satiate fans all evening. The Oracle survey found that 19% of consumers plan on drinking more during Super Bowl 2021, and 16% hope to “eat and drink everything in sight”!

Wondering how consumers will purchase their food and drinks? Shopkick’s survey found that 78% of consumers plan to buy groceries to cook at home, and 18% planned on ordering take out for the big game, with chicken wings, pizza, guacamole, queso, and cookies being some of the most popular orders.

Consumers will dress comfortably

Consumers are planning on watching the game from their homes, but will they dress up for the big occasion? Not too likely. According to the Oracle study, 21% will be wearing loungewear or pajamas during the game. Another 21% will be dressing up slightly by wearing team gear. A small group (6%) even reported they planned on watching the game in their underwear — let’s hope they’re not also planning on attending a virtual party!

They’ll still be watching the commercials, but…

The ads consumers see the night of the big game will be slightly different. Many big brands dropped their multimillion-dollar in-game advertisements this year and instead committed to using that money to promote vaccine awareness. As an example, Budweiser is forgoing a 37-year tradition of in-game advertisement and instead committing to reallocating that investment to the Ad Council for public awareness efforts. However, many freshman advertisers, like Chipotle, DoorDash, and Huggies are hoping to capture consumer attention for the first time.

Consumers may play hooky from work on Monday

16.1 million U.S. employees plan on missing work on the Monday following the game, according to the 2021 Super Bowl Absence Survey by The Workforce Institute at UKG and The Harris Poll. While 8.8 million planned this ahead of time by taking paid time off, the rest will need to figure out how to tell their bosses they won’t be in the office. The survey also found that 53% of workers were hesitant about calling out because they’re worried they’ll be asked for a doctor’s note or a negative COVID-19 test before allowing them to return.

How do you plan to spend this Super Bowl Sunday? Let us know on Twitter @SmarterCX.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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