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The State of Thanksgiving 2020: Regional Differences

Thanksgiving table spread

By NCS Marketing

Obviously, the way people gather and eat across the melting pot of America is very different. Each region has its delicacies and foods that it’s known for. (Crab cakes, anyone?) This is dictated by tradition, weather, ethnic makeup and many other factors. Thanksgiving is no exception.

In 2020, we’ve seen that celebrating the holiday is more important for many Americans who are seeking tradition, celebration and normalcy. We also know that more Americans are planning to gather in smaller groups with immediate family, with more individuals cooking the traditional holiday meal. This means that advertisers have the opportunity to influence more households with their campaigns over the next three weeks.

To help CPG brands maximize their holiday sales and move buyers up the loyalty ladder, we’ve taken a look at how the different regions are planning to shop, cook and gather for Thanksgiving this year.

In the South, it’s all about moderation. Compared to the other regions, Southerners will gather in moderately-sized groups with family and don’t really hate any traditional dishes more than the rest of us. They do love their yams, mac n’ cheese and ham (which is why we all say ‘“yes” when we’re invited to dinner at a Southern-style restaurant).

In the Midwest, gathering sizes will be a bit larger, with families planning to get together to celebrate. Stuffing and rolls are much-loved for the holiday meal. You’re not as likely to find cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts or yams around the table, but Midwesterners do plan to spend 67% more on wine this year than last year.

On both coasts, diners enjoy salads and Brussels sprouts more than they do in other regions. Guests on the east and west coasts also plan to bring more wine and alcohol as a host gift than other regions…perhaps to drown out the fact that they’re eating so many vegetables on Thanksgiving.

Check out the graphic below to see results from a nationally representative survey fielded October 17-19 and some tips for how CPG advertisers can make quick adjustments to their holiday strategies.

map showing Thanksgiving trends by region

For more consumer insights like these to help inform your holiday audience targeting strategies, download our new 2020 CPG Advertiser’s Recipe for Thanksgiving.


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