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The Ultimate Numbers Game
Stats Begin to Define $20 Billion Tailgating Marketplace
August 19, 2008

Call it a breakout. A breakthrough. A breakaway. Call it whatever you want, but in recent years tailgating has shattered its once-modest projections and preconceptions to become a dynamic consumer product category with sales touching the $20 billion mark.

Once folded into camping, RVing and other outdoor activities where folks gather in large numbers to share their particular passion, tailgating has distinguished itself as the nexus of three culture-defining American pastimes—eating, cars and sports.

As a major leisure trend, tailgating has proved to be remarkably accessible—not only for those grilling in stadium parking lots, but to retailers looking to add depth and dimension to their selling environments.

Tailgating is a brand-builder not just for innovative new products, but for stores as well. Any store smart enough or fortunate enough to distinguish itself as “The Tailgating Store” in a college or pro town has seen sales soar as this trend grows by double-digits every year.

The numbers speak for themselves:

According to the 2007 American Tailgaters Association’s National Survey:

“Hardcore” Tailgaters are Buyers:

  • 69% buy their own tailgating equipment/supplies
  • 22% buy together with their spouse/significant other
    “Hardcore” Tailgaters are Strong Influencers
  • 88% interested in trying new products
  • 49% are among the first to try new products
  • 75% like to tell others about new products

'Hardcore tailgaters are spending money on both durable goods (equipment) and consumables (food, beverage). Licensing plays an influential role (20% of the Top 10 selections).

Hardcore tailgaters want the convenience of “one-stop” shopping – they just can’t find it! Tailgate preparation takes most of a week. And at four bucks a gallon, they need convenience now more than ever.

  • 52% of hardcore tailgaters shop at four or more stores for their tailgating
    products. Less than 4% find/purchase all of their products at one location.
  • 73% of hardcore tailgaters would buy all of our tailgating supplies at one
    retailer if they carried a full (diverse) line of tailgating products.

Hardcore tailgaters are also open to a variety of cross-merchandising possibilities within reason. Case in point, most hardcore types will purchase grilling equipment and licensed apparel at the same store, or barbecue rubs and assorted utensils at the same shop, but two-thirds won’t go as far as buying our meat - the basis of our grilling prowess - from a hardware store.

In addition to the aforementioned merchandising strategies, retailers (and manufacturers of tailgating products) would benefit from a stronger association with tailgating. Why?

  • 72% of tailgaters are more likely to purchase products from companies who support/celebrate/sponsor tailgating
  • 77% of tailgaters are more likely to purchase products designed specifically for tailgating/tailgaters

How does a retail store attract a bigger piece of the tailgating business? According to the ATA these are some basic steps space:

  • Recognize & embrace the retail tailgate opportunity
    Tailgaters are a valuable audience seeking unique solutions
    Tailgaters ready to spend with “supportive” retailers
  • Recognize & embrace tailgaters and tailgate culture
    Camaraderie and togetherness are strongly valued
    Treat tailgaters as a distinct community
    Become a part of it!
  • Grow your store(s) “tailgating credentials”
    Create/maintain a presence at tailgating events

    Offer informational resources (tools, tips, recipes, etc.) in store, online, & through advertising
  • Test tailgate merchandising tactics
    Consider displays, shelf sets, tailgating kits
    Explore non-traditional cross-merchandising

Tailgaters continually demonstrate the power of “personal preference.” They prefer information-driven promotions or price breaks and other benefits. ATA Survey respondents ranked the following retail marketing/ merchandising programs according to how useful they would be in helping them shop for tailgating products:

  • Tailgating Displays (26%)
  • Tailgating Endorsement (21%)
  • Dedicated Shelf Area (18%)
  • In-Store Sampling (17%)
  • Tailgate Product Reviews (15%)
  • Tailgate Loyalty Program (14%)
  • Tailgating Kits (Multi-Pack) (14%)
  • Store Media Highlights (16%)
  • Shopping Guide (16%)'
  • Coupons/Discounts (15%)
Top 10
Tailgating Supplies
Top 10 Tailgate
Retail Sources

Team Apparel
Alcoholic Beverages
Food Storage

Team Décor (Flags, etc.)
High Tech/Satellite TV/Radio
Vehicle accessories

Merchants (23%)
Grocery (15%)
Sports Specialty (14%)
Club (9%)
Outdoor Specialty. (8%)
Home Improvement. (7%)
Tailgate dot-com’s (5%)
Team/League Site (4%)
College Bookstore (2%)




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