For most Americans that enjoy the Super Bowl, the season’s biggest game is much more than just a sports event. In many ways, Super Bowl Sunday has become a bona fide American holiday. And like with most holidays, food and drinks both play an important role in our national celebration. With millions of viewers expected to watch Super Bowl 50, many will gather with friends and family to tune in to the finale of the NFL season, and that means they’re be digging in to a host of traditional game day favorites like chips, Buffalo wings and beer.
But despite being traditionally billed as a beer-drinking event, there are signs that consumers are thirsty for something else. According to a recent Nielsen survey conducted by Harris Poll, 57% of Americans who say they plan to host others for the big game may have to clear some space on the tables for other options. While beer remains the No. 1 adult beverage choice for the Super Bowl, 20% of legal age drinkers say they’ll drink wine, and 20% say they’ll drink some form of spirits.
Nielsen’s latest off-premise sales data for adult beverages shows that the Super Bowl benefits wine and spirits as much as it does beer. During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, wine sales are, on average, 9% more than the average of the three weeks prior; spirits are about 11% higher. That’s in the same range as the lift in beer sales during that critical week preceding Super Bowl.
While kicking off the Super Bowl with a cabernet may not be the choice for all football fans, the appeal certainly speaks to women. Women continue to account for a larger percentage of wine consumption than men (57% of women compared with 43% of men), according to Nielsen Spectra data, and are a more significant gender to both wine and spirits than they are to beer.
Bridging the world of wine/spirits and football is the growing taste for football among women, particularly during Super Bowl. According to Nielsen media research, the Super Bowl has attracted significantly more female viewers over the past five seasons than regular NFL season games have. In fact, women now make up about 46% of the people who watch the Super Bowl, versus about 33% during the regular season.
Football and beer may always be a perfect pairing, but the changing preferences of fans and the widening appeal of the country’s biggest sporting event among women are changing the beverage-buying game. And with the spirits and wine categories making inroads into a sport better known for chugging than sipping, it’s clear that there are growth opportunities across the entire adult beverage category around Super Bowl Sunday.
Survey insights from this article were derived from a Nielsen survey conducted by Harris Poll of 2,000 21+ Americans representative of the general adult population. The survey was conducted between Jan. 19-21, 2016.