This year’s surprise Super Bowl MVP? Commerce

A condensed version of this article ran on Feburary 4 in Campaign.

Super Bowl LV will be unlike any we’ve experienced in the past. Yes, this means very few fans in the stands and pared down Super Bowl parties, but it also means the brands we see show up for the Big Game will demonstrate a recognizable shift. Super Bowl advertising mainstays Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and others have taken a step back or a different approach altogether, which has given way for new entrants. But who are these new players scooping up these coveted spots – taking center stage on the biggest ad platform? 

One thing is for sure, they all have something in common: commerce. 

Commerce Takes Center Stage Across Ads

Amazon has been a Super Bowl advertiser for many years at this point, but this year we’re seeing smaller Commerce marketplaces come in on the action. Mercari, DoorDash and Vroom are among the new entrants promising seamless shopping experiences, omnichannel marketplaces and consumer goods that provide convenience and value. They’re using this platform to introduce their brand and their positioning to a new group of people – people who are emerging from a pandemic, looking for safer, more personalized and convenient shopping experiences. 

These brands have an opportunity to take advantage of the “network effect” when it comes to the Super Bowl’s massive audience. Consumers are in an always on shopping mode now as they have learned to constantly update their digital lists. Brands need to make sure that their search and content experiences are ready for the increased traffic once a consumer learns about a new product or offering they’ll want to buy.

Brands Delivering Unique Experiences to Your Home

Outside of the ads, many brands are taking the opportunity to bring Super Bowl solutions to your door: Goldbelly suggesting and bringing you your favorite Super Bowl food no matter where you are; Instacart sharing its Consumer Snacking Report to score the top ranking snacks for Game Day; or Kroger who is hosting a kickoff concert, complete with a Digital Kit that provides everything needed to turn your location into a “party zone.” 

To continually deliver against consumers’ changing needs, it’s vital brands ensure their infrastructure is set up to deliver as players like Go Puff and 7Now enable consumers to get what they want in 30 minutes or less. One key way to do this is to focus on supply chain throughout the process and think about how your company can add value to consumers’ lives.

Social Platforms Powering Game-Related Shopping

We’re also seeing more people turn to social platforms like Pinterest for more than just décor and recipe ideas. According to Pinterest, top Super Bowl search terms this year were closely tied to commerce across beauty and apparel categories, with 7x increase in “super bowl outfits for women,” 99% increase in “super bowl nails” and a 131% increase in “cold game day outfit.”

The NRF projects that the average consumer is planning to spend close to $75 to celebrate the big game, equaling $13.9 billion nationwide. Brands need to be prepared to make it easy for consumers to make their in-home viewing sessions as fun and easy as possible. This means being relevant in the moment through digital channels is now more important than ever.

As we experience this year’s game like never before, we will see a new group of brands usher in the post-pandemic era – signaling things will never go back to the way they were. From here on out, consumers will demand convenience, value and personalization when it comes to the shopping experience. Brands who are successful today and in the future will be those who take the “network effect” into consideration across content and search, prime their infrastructure to deliver across changing need states and ensure they’re relevant in the moment across digital channels. Consistency pays off and proper planning wins the game.