Published on: September 21, 2010by Michael Sansolo
If you are in the food industry and you don’t have Sept. 27th circled on your calendar, do it now. Sure, it may not be Christmas, Thanksgiving or Super Bowl Sunday, yet Sept. 27th is the holiday you simply do not want to miss.
It is the annual celebration of Family Meal Day and the food industry is simply not doing enough about this event. And while six days aren’t enough time to plan, consider this as warning to start planning for next year.
Family Meal Day is the creation of the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. If you haven’t heard of it before, get to the website and get educated. You don’t have to read much to realize the importance of this day.
Family Meal Day was created when CASA unearthed the most amazing fact. While conducting studies to determine the causes of risky behaviors among teen-agers, CASA found the closest thing possible to a silver bullet. As CASA’s leader, former Cabinet Secretary Joseph Califano Jr. says, “If I could wave a magic wand to make a dent in our nation's substance abuse problem, I would make sure that every child in America had dinner with his or her parents at least five times a week.”
CASA’s website calls on families to use the 27th to start or restart the tradition of eating together more often. The more research you do into the group’s work, the more evident it becomes that the meals with the most impact are those eaten at home, around the family table where conversation takes place without the noise or distractions of so many restaurants.
In other words, Family Meal Day is all about what the retail food industry has long worked to build—more meals eaten at home more days of the week.
The beauty of this little known holiday is that it leads to so many good outcomes. There is so much consumer concern about economics these days and the cost of meals. Surely, supermarkets have a great story to tell in this area, with so many food choices priced so economically.
There are so many concerns about healthy eating and the lack of nutrition. Again, study after study shows the incredible edge home cooked meals can have. And while many consumers have limited skills in the kitchen, supermarkets can offer an increasingly wider array of meal options that are easier and quicker to prepare than ever. In short, eating at home is a better choice than ever, but only if you tell someone about it.
I blush to admit that I’m old enough to remember a time when the world didn’t stop for the Super Bowl. In fact, it wasn’t originally called the Super Bowl. But with clever marketing that almost always outperforms the game itself, the Super Bowl has become a formidable national day of celebration. The same has happened for the NCAA Basketball Final Four. In other words, good marketing and commitment can build an event.
To a lesser extent, Family Day should be ours. Maybe we need catchy songs or whacky commercials, but we need to build it. More family meals should be our goal each year, each month and even multiple times a week. If you have any doubts on the business benefits, click here to check out the study called “Eating In” from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council on the incredible sales impact of winning back meals. (Full disclosure: I am the research director of the Council and worked on that report.)
Most importantly, look at your shoppers and consider what’s top of mind for them. They and their families have needs and it our job to serve them in a way that helps all of us succeed. So wish them a Happy Family Meal Day and get on with building the new relationship.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His new book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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