As Americans start making Thanksgiving grocery lists, most of us assume those lists will have nearly identical ingredients for celebrations from Seattle to Key West. However, a recent USA Today article reminds us that even though the image of a roasted turkey surrounded by family-style side dishes may be the stereotypical view of Thanksgiving, it is not necessarily a true representative of what Americans will be eating on November 24th.
The stuffing versus dressing debate is one that mostly straddles the Mason-Dixon line with northern cooks stuffing birds and southerners baking a cornbread dressing in its own dish. The article also notes other regional differences like apple cider-brined turkeys in New England and blue-corn bread in the Southwest (pictured on the left). My father grew up on a farm in South Louisiana and Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house often didn’t even involve a turkey – a pork roast was often the preferred Cajun meat centerpiece. Here in New Orleans, oyster dressing is a local favorite and a must-have on many holiday tables. Also, you’ve got to love the section on what’s popular in California, take-out.
So what does the Thanksgiving dinner table have to do with market research?
It reminds us that no matter how standardized we think certain behaviors or habits may be, there can always be a little personalization based on geography and demographics. As our nation becomes more diverse than ever, we’re all becoming more comfortable with adapting to new customs and tweaking tradition. Consumers in one part of the country may be completely unfamiliar with products we assume are household favorites across America. It’s important to remember not to make those assumptions. We walk into every business discussion with preconceived notions about consumers. It’s best to walk into those discussions armed with facts to make better informed decisions.
Louis David, Account Executive