Thanksgiving 2015 Insights

The month of November is a crucial period for grocery advertisers: Thanksgiving is a particularly food-centric holiday, and indeed, according to Static Brain, consumers are expected to spend $2.8 billion on Thanksgiving dinner. To understand what strategies leading advertisers have been using to win their share of the Thanksgiving pie, we looked at spend for retail grocery stores and food manufacturers in the month leading up to the holiday this year using our Fast Spend data.

Timing is everything

During the four weeks leading up to the holiday, grocery retailers have spent a total of $110 million on media advertising. Of this amount, about 21% has been used to specifically promote Thanksgiving-related items and offers. Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving ad messages accelerate as the holiday draws closer and shoppers make purchases for the big meal. During the week of November 16-22, over 40 percent of grocery retail ad spend was targeted to the holiday.

Notably, some retailers begin to place holiday budgets 3-4 weeks in advance of Thanksgiving Day as part of a strategy to gain share of mind with prospective customers as they start planning the holiday meal.

Retail Grocery Ad Spend Thanksgiving

Looking at the top five grocery retail advertisers ranked on total ad spend, the highest spending advertiser during this time period wasn’t a supermarket. Discount department store Target beat out the competition for grocery spend with $3.9 million in spend. (For multiline retailers like Walmart and Target all figures include only ads focused on grocery offerings.)

Share percentage for holiday themed spend varied widely across the top five. Target and Winn-Dixie each dedicated more than 70 percent of their grocery ad spend to Thanksgiving themed messages. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Walmart only used 14% of its grocery ad spend towards Thanksgiving advertising.

Retail Grocery Ad Spend Thanksgiving

Who's invited to dinner?

While retailers compete to get customers through the front doors, food companies compete to have these shoppers pick their branded products for the holiday feast. We selected a core group of food choices that appear on many Thanksgiving tables and tabulated ad spending during the four weeks from October 26 – November 22.

Bacon and sausage meats led the way for food categories. While this may not stand out as a Thanksgiving staple for some, four of the top ten advertisers fell into this category helping it reach approximately $17 million in spend for the month. Surprisingly, Turkey narrowly made the top 10 categories, coming in ninth with only $2 million

Top Thanksgiving Categories

Pillsbury was the top overall advertiser for the month for leading Thanksgiving food categories, with over $10 million in spend. McCormick’s, a leading purveyor of seasonings and spices, was the second-placed advertiser with $7 million in spend.

Top Thanksgiving Advertisers

Thanksgiving is just the tip of the iceberg for these retailers, categories and brands. We’ve already seen many retailers begin their holiday campaigns. As we get further into the season, we’ll be using our AdScope tool to continue to monitor activity across the media landscape to see who wins the holiday season this year!

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