According to a study conducted by Quicken Loans Racing and Beckon Media, a whopping 80 percent of Americans have tailgated in the past year. If you’re like me, you probably think that number seems a little high. I mean, I’ve tailgated a few times in the past year, but I don’t remember throwing down some grilled sausages with anyone aged 10 and under, or 70 and older.

Regardless of the REAL number, I think we can all agree that tailgating is a national pastime that demands the attention of nearly 100 percent of America’s food and beverage marketers.

Not convinced? Here are a few more numbers from that study:

  • Americans spend $35 billion on tailgating food and beverage supplies each year.
  • 93 percent of tailgaters prepare their food on site.
  • 61 percent of Americans tailgate five or more times each year.
  • 58 percent of football tailgaters are male, and 42 percent are female.
  • 47 percent of tailgaters say the food and beverage supplies are purchased by both the husband and the wife.
  • 25 percent of football tailgaters have a household income of $100,000 or more.

That $35 billion in food and drink spending is the stat that should get most marketers’ attention. The Tailgating Industry Association (yes, there’s an association) is quick to point out that the number only includes consumables and doesn’t cover expensive grills, games, tables, chairs and other pre-game essentials. It also doesn’t take into account the equally lucrative (if not more lucrative) homegating audience — that is, folks who throw parties while watching the big game from the comfort of their own homes.

And if you think food and beverage brands are the only ones getting in on the action, think again. Charmin — yes, the folks who make toilet paper and have the great Facebook Page — pulled off one of the most memorable tailgating promos in recent memory with last year’s Charmin Relief Project.

The guerrilla marketing effort, according to a Charmin news release, put “a fresh spin on the standard tailgate bathroom experience (by) delivering upscale restrooms to football fanatics at tailgates across the country."

Charmin’s not the only brand to harness the power of tailgating. McDonald’s also launched a highly digital photo sweepstakes earlier this year, packed with QR codes, exclusive NFL Now video content and all sorts of prizes and incentives.

It’s a flashy effort, but sort of what you’d expect from an official NFL partner like McDonald’s. The Charmin campaign is the real eye-opener here, because, if a toilet paper brand can score a tailgating touchdown and reap countless media impressions along the way, those of you in the more consumable grocery aisles have no excuse when it comes to firing up the grill this weekend.

If anyone wants some thoughts on how their brand can tap into tailgating, the team at quench is happy to toss the pigskin around and come up with a few ideas.