Historically the Super Bowl has been the second largest food day of the year for Americans, trailing Thanksgiving Day. Last year the average person was expected to spend $74.55 on game day supplies for a total of $13.9 billion nationwide, with 77% of spending going toward food and beverage.1 The appetite for a game day celebration includes pizza of course. Some pizza chains plan to sell up to 40% more pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday compared to a normal Sunday.2
How do these expectations translate to game day pizza sales amid a pandemic? 2021 was our first championship football game experience since COVID-19 swept the nation. While celebrations looked different, with almost 3/4 of consumers watching the game from home instead of attending a party or watching at local bar or restaurant,1 pizza maintained its status as a VIP.
Though low viewership of last year’s game (96.4 million TV and streaming viewers) made it the least-watched Super Bowl broadcast since 2007,3 restaurants still had a big day of sales.
According to a Restaurant Business article, Pizza chain Donatos said its sales were up more than 10% from last year’s Super Bowl and they saw a $2.50 increase in average check. Pizza Hut sold 1.4 million pizzas last year, noting that diners in Kansas City spent 11% more per order than those in the winning Super Bowl city of Tampa Bay.4
As you prepare to score game day sales at your pizzeria, here are some ideas to consider when making your game plan:
Delivery is Your MVP
Even though avoidance of eating out is the lowest it’s been since the start of the pandemic (24% of consumers avoid eating out due to covid), the Omicron variant still has Americans concerned. Seventy-five percent of consumers state Omicron has influenced them that worst of the pandemic is still to come.5 After the holiday surge in cases, many folks may opt to stay home for the big game again this year.
Even when confined to their homes, sports fans like making game day an event. Sixty-one percent of fans like to order restaurant food as a special treat during the game. This is even higher for Millennials (74%).6 Getting your restaurant front and center in the consideration set for fans looking for delivery is critical. Use our Optimizing Online Delivery tools to ensure that you are offering the best delivery services available and owning your online presence effectively. Draw extra attention to your pizzeria and stand out from the chains on game day with our football themed social media content available to download free for Grande 100-Percenters.
Game Day Pizza Deals
It’s not a surprise that wings and pizza are the two most popular Super Bowl snacks, especially given that 64% of Americans like to eat food/snacks similar to what they would get at a stadium while watching the game.6 Consider making a combo meal deal that features your top selling wings and pizza. Keep in mind that most people will be celebrating within their household or in a small group so offering smaller portions or various sizes will help meet your customers’ needs. Wings not on your menu? Try our on-trend Smoky Parmesan Garlic Wings recipe, even if you only add them for a limited time.
Sports fans love competition! Get in on the friendly banter by featuring an LTO specialty pizza for each competing team in the Super Bowl. Once the conference champions are identified, get to work testing specialty pies that play on a theme. Consider using popular ingredients from the competing teams’ regions, leveraging colored ingredients that tie in team colors (like green and yellow peppers or red sauce and golden honey, the possibilities are endless!) or featuring a name that’s a play on words related to the teams.
Once you’ve perfected your creation start promoting it on social media! Asking your customers to vote for their favorite team or specialty pizza is a great way to generate social media engagement and extra visibility. Make it easy for them by leveraging polls and featuring it in your Facebook or Instagram story. Learn more about creating & promoting limited-time offers in our blog post and Special Offers Toolkit.
Bring the Beverages
Many states have loosened their liquor laws to allow restaurants to deliver beer, wine and cocktails during the pandemic. If this is still allowed in your location, the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to push beverage sales. Over half of Americans prefer to drink alcoholic beverages while watching sports.6 This can be an easy way to build check averages by promoting local craft brews and other drinks that you already have on your menu, or with more effort it can become its own promotion.
Have fun with it by creating themed specialty drinks for the big game or have your own competition between bartenders in the week(s) leading up to the Super Bowl to create the best specialty cocktail. Ask your customers to vote on social media for their favorite drink and make the winner available on game day.
Americans may be more open to watching sports on-premise this year, but following CDC recommendations and safety protocols will help alleviate concerns for many. If promoting an on-premise watch party is important to you and permissible by your local regulations, communicating your precautions will be critical. The top three measures that consumers identified as helping them feel comfortable watching a sporting event in a bar/restaurant are:
- Social distancing of tables and common areas (44%)
- Performing extra cleaning/sanitation (40%)
- Restricting the number of customers (38%)6
Learn more about proper safety precautions and how to communicate them to your customers with our free Keeping You Safe and Building Patron Confidence downloadable toolkits.
Will this Super Bowl look different than previous years? Yes. Is there still an opportunity for your pizzeria to capitalize on game day sales? You bet! For additional business building ideas, explore our blog.