To Grill or Not to Grill


To grill, or not to grill, that is the question my dear Ophelia? I know, I know wrong Shakespeare character.

In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs survey, Is Outdoor Cooking America’s Favorite Summer Pastime?, we explore America’s passion for grilling, spending time with friends, and enjoying a refreshing summer cocktail. It seems as if quite a bit of us escape the kitchen heat for the backyard grill. Eight in ten (81%) cook outside during the summer months, on average about six times per month, and almost 1 out of every 2 Americans (49%), feel cooking outside is the #1 best thing about preparing meals at home during the summer.

So why do so many evacuate the one room in the house they pour a life savings into with Viking appliances, back splash palooza-tile, and cabinets fit for Martha Stewart?

Is it outdoor socialization, or does the food taste better and healthier from the grill? Here’s something to ponder. A recent May post from talked about the three primary cooking methods, and which is best for health and diet. Although baking and grilling have obvious benefits, added carcinogens from the grill, and a depletion of vitamins from food in the oven, frying comes out on top for retaining needed vitamins, fat, and clean dieting. Stir frying was at the top of the list for healthiest cooking alternatives.

Maybe Americans knew these facts already, and that is why 44% of Americans say summer offers more occasions to enjoy a cocktail. Socialization! Judging by my enlarging waist line, and willingness to debate about Greece’s recent financial debacle, while holding a cocktail in my right hand so I can work on my left handed grill flips and turns, I would have to say it’s the social factor as well. Heck, after a few delicious Arnold Palmer’s, Mai Tai’s, or Blake Shelton’s Sangria, I’m not sure anyone knows how the food tastes anyways.

Well whatever the reason, you can’t dispel the fact that our study revealed 78% prefer to eat a meal that has been cooked outside vs. inside. Let’s face it, summer is relaxing, and it makes us forget the record setting 108.6 inches of snow that fell in Beantown this year rendering my snow blower useless. Why not get outside, cook, drink, socialize, and enjoy the great outdoors from Kodiak Alaska, all the way to Derby Line Vermont on the 45th parallel.

Something is pulling us outside like Close Encounters of a Third Kind. Maybe it’s the bugs, snakes, birds, deer, wind, rain, heat, pollen, dust, my crazy neighbor “B”, or the mess left at the bottom of the grill in late August resembling Howe Caverns in Howes Cave, NY.

How can marketers act on the study’s findings?

  • Grilling is about sharing and socializing, so make sure you bundle your products and services to account for this trend during the summer.
  • Market the outside atmosphere and deck as your new 3rd location for gathering (home-work-grill deck) during the summer.
  • Look for as many cross-category promotional opportunities possible to make one stop shopping a breeze and cost friendly.