Thanksgiving Cook-Off: Gourmets Meet Comfort Foodies

In 2011, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported that the average retail cost of menu items for a classic, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner (with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and standard trimmings for 10 guests) was $49.20. For busy families that had little time to cook their own dinners, ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals from supermarkets and takeout restaurants averaged $50 to $75.

Competition is fierce among retailers, brands, and restaurants looking to capture a greater piece of the Thanksgiving pie this season. One way advertisers can get the most out of their digital ad spend is by targeting Thanksgiving diners with ads that speak to the audience’s specific tastes in food, whether it’s modern dishes or classic comfort food.

To help give advertisers a leg up against the competition this season, we analyzed offline and online data points—including point-of-sale data and consumption of social media, videos, music, local web pages, and online magazines—to pinpoint the US cities most interested in gourmet and comfort foods. Not surprisingly, the lists look very different:

The Top 10 Cities Interested in Gourmet Foods

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. New York, NY
  3. Milwaukee, WI
  4. Tampa, FL
  5. Charleston, SC
  6. Lexington, KY
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Portland, OR
  9. San Antonio, TX
  10. Memphis, TN

The Top 10 Cities Interested in Comfort Foods

  1. Oklahoma City, OK
  2. Green Bay, WI
  3. Grand Rapids, MI
  4. Kansas City, MO
  5. Little Rock, AR
  6. Indianapolis, IN
  7. Omaha, NE
  8. Burlington, VT
  9. Paducah, KY
  10. Buffalo, NY

Shopper Profiles
The differences between gourmets and “comfort foodies” go beyond location. These diners also differ in their demographics, interests, and purchases.

Those who can’t get enough of gourmet foods from local supermarkets and restaurants tend to be between 18 and 35 years of age. They also:

  • Have college educations or advanced degrees
  • Make between $100,000 and $150,000 per year
  • Love to research the latest cooking trends and consume ingredients that are rare and expensive

Comfort foodies have college educations or advanced degrees too, but they also:

  • Have children
  • Make between $40,000 and $60,000 per year
  • Enjoy the basics, such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and spaghetti
  • Cook for their families using common ingredients

From their online searches to their everyday purchases, these two groups are strikingly different. Check out the infographic at the end of this report to learn more about these shoppers, including what they’re searching for online and which products they’re purchasing in stores.

Inside the Neighborhoods
Knowing that Atlanta, Georgia, tops the list of cities with gourmets is a great advantage to restaurants, brands, and retailers. Take a national restaurant chain that’s running a promotion for a complete, hassle-free Thanksgiving meal. The chain may use the lists of cities interested in gourmet and comfort foods to develop targeted ads that resonate with each city. Although a promotion for old-fashioned mashed potatoes may not hit home with an Atlanta audience, an ad that highlights the restaurant’s twist on a traditional item—perhaps macaroni and cheese with white truffle oil, fontina cheese, and panko bread crumbs—may be highly successful.

The ability to target Thanksgiving diners with the right ads extends beyond the city level, too. Advertisers who adopt a hyperlocal digital advertising approach can drill down even further to the specific neighborhoods that have the most interest in either gourmet foods or comfort foods. Take a look:

Atlanta Neighborhoods Most Interested in Gourmet Foods

  • Poncey-Highland
  • Old Fourth Ward
  • Inman Park
  • Atkins Park

Oklahoma City Neighborhoods Most Interested in Comfort Foods

  • Tribbey
  • Maysville
  • Ninnekah
  • Farwell

What This Means for Advertisers
Making the most of digital advertising dollars is a priority for every advertiser this holiday season. By taking a hyperlocal digital advertising approach and reaching consumers with ads that speak to their specific tastes in food, advertisers can make the most of their Thanksgiving campaigns.

MaxPoint in Action
Using the data from this Interest Index, we ran several digital advertising campaigns, including the following:

California Olive Ranch – The premium olive oil brand wanted to increase sales of its products within six to eight miles of select retail locations. Using a combination of online display and video ads, MaxPoint targeted gourmets who over-indexed for consumption of premium olive oil within the desired radius. The brand saw a 20% lift in dollar sales in one major metropolitan city and eliminated 46% of waste by targeting the right audience with the right ads.