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How growers and shippers can tap into “Friendsgiving”

Is “Friendsgiving” emerging as a new holiday-related opportunity for producers and shippers? Absolutely, says Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics, LLC.

While the concept of gathering friends around a Thanksgiving table could potentially be traced back to the idea being featured on shows such as Friends, there are other factors behind this idea taking off. In fact, the event is happening enough to make cranberry companies such as Ocean Spray take notice--it recently reported its observations about Friendsgiving becoming an emerging trend and said the event has become an integral and expanding aspect of its cranberry campaign.

The pandemic boost
“During that first year in the pandemic, when a lot of people were unable to travel home or gather in bigger groups, especially single and one to two-person households, they ended up celebrating Thanksgiving where they lived,” she says. “That’s really where the idea got a big boost and moved to becoming a thing.”

Ocean Spray recently said that Friendsgiving was an emerging trend and said the event has become an integral and expanding aspect of its cranberry campaign. Photo: Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.

Because of that, she says people also realize that their friends are also their chosen family, and events like Friendsgiving help strengthen those bonds and communities. “So what we’ve seen happening is that Thanksgiving has really expanded from the one-day Thursday occasion to become a bigger friends and family occasion,” says Roerink. “We’re seeing that maybe the Wednesday the night before or the Friday or the weekend after, there’s a continued celebration and even more than one celebration.”

The nature of the event is also more community-minded. Rather than one family or person taking on the bulk of the cooking duties, Friendsgiving is also more of a potluck-type event, and it’s an idea spreading across generations, from Gen Z and millennials over to boomers. “The occurrence of Friendsgiving is higher among Gen Z and millennials, but there’s also the massive boomer generation who are empty nesters and don’t always have children who are able to come home. They are also having different kinds of celebrations,” says Roerink.

Promotional possibilities
So what does this mean for growers-shippers? There are more promotional opportunities, starting with the heat-and-eat concept. “Publix, for example, had all the Thanksgiving classic dishes in heat-and-eat deli items. There are big opportunities within produce and produce departments cooperating with meat and deli departments as well around Friendsgiving,” she says.

That also includes rethinking perhaps some Thanksgiving classics. Rather than cooking a 20 lb turkey for the group, people are also moving to feature proteins such as a turkey breast or high-end seafood, prime rib, or brisket as the centerpiece dish. “From a produce point of view, the protein has a lot of influence on what people purchase. What are those co-purchases if they change the protein, and do you have the right kind of produce in stock as well as on sale and very visible? That’s another key point,” says Roerink.

Then there are also economics, and this year’s promotional efforts are heavily focused on price and affordability. That also may, to some consumers and retailers, favor shelf-stable or frozen options for produce. “While it’s good to see fruit and veggies in there, from a fresh produce department, it continues to reinforce that belief that fresh is a little bit more expensive. That’s a dangerous premise,” says Roerink. Instead, she says that cross-merchandising fresh items in Thanksgiving-type baskets and offers is extremely important. “Doing so can set whole new routines for consumers,” she says. “It isn’t just about winning this year’s Thanksgiving basket--it’s really about winning all of them.”

For more information:
Anne-Marie Roerink
210 Analytics LLC
Tel.: +1 (210) 651-2719
[email protected]