I have never been a fan of the month of January. I'll admit I do not enjoy skiing, short days, gray skies, cold weather or wearing parkas with fuzzy hood coverings. January is the month when many shoppers struggle to pay off their holiday bills and take time to plan and make lists detailing what they can do to change their lives for the better. Our stores show the wear and tear of holiday displays, foods and features while many staff and store associates are hoping for a few days off to catch their breath and relax. But here comes Super Bowl Sunday, and it's time to gather up the energy and skill to remake our stores into football extravaganzas. No rest for the weary.
This January has been unusually hard; the senseless shootings in Arizona set the stage for depression and despair throughout the country and cable news networks, and was followed by stronger than average snowstorms and an unexpected flu virus that seemed to linger longer than most. There are bright spots, as Ford is hiring again and indications are that the economy is finally starting to show those signs of recovery that Washington announced months ago.
I am surprised at least three weeks into the month, not to see the usual deluge of January diet plan television spots and diet aid infomercials. I wonder if it is because American's obesity crisis has been fixed? Or that America has finally given up on the “get thin quick” schemes and we have given in to accept the much less exciting “eat less and exercise more” way of thinking? Perhaps, after these diet-obsessed decades, we are finally thinking about our health more holistically? I can only hope that is the reason, although I am suspicious.
So back to the Super Bowl, which now enjoys the spotlight as one of our industry's highest profile and highest volume (and perhaps most profitable?) of food events. The question is can we make it even better?
Let's imagine for a moment supermarket Super Bowl events and displays without beer, soda, chips and guacamole.
The Super Bowl is a celebration. Friends gather, typically replacing the family members that have surrounded us since Thanksgiving, in a more relaxed celebratory if not uninhibited atmosphere. There are no formal dinners or place settings, those have been replaced with couches and lounge chairs arranged for a four-plus hour bacchanal (or should I say brewanal?) where shouting and cheering are the norm, which, by the way, science has proven is a positive release for our stresses — which is a good thing.
Seriously, we know that these categories are winners and will sell beyond our expectations for this event — so why not use this opportunity to see how else we can maximize this opportunity?
Phil Lempert is contributing editor of Supermarket News and CEO of The Lempert Report and SupermarketGuru.com.
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