Can online shopping behavior pick the Super Bowl winner?

By Dawn Mortensen

SLI Systems

Football fans around the world are gearing up for the biggest day of the season. On Super Bowl Sunday, a record-breaking 111 million viewers are expected to be glued to their sets to see whether the Broncos or the Seahawks will carry the day.

But which team will they be rooting for? We can answer that question by looking at online searching behavior among shoppers seeking NFL logo wear for purchase.

During the week following the NFC and AFC championship games, nearly 160,000 searches for the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks were made on e-commerce sites powered by SLI Systems. Looking at which team's products were searched most often turned up some interesting findings.

State-by-state team preferences: The map below shows fan preference by state, blue states searching most for Seahawks gear while orange states searched most for Broncos gear. Most states in the west searched more for Seahawks, as is expected for a Washington team. But it’s interesting to see how many states in the Midwest and on (or near) the East Coast searched more for Seahawks gear than for Broncos gear. Most central states preferred Broncos fan gear.

Super Bowl 2014 web searches by state

Quarterback preferences: On the same e-commerce sites, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning jerseys and fan items were searched for more than twice as often as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson jerseys and fan items. True, Manning has been on a winning Super Bowl team in the past. But could the drastic difference suggest more fan support for the Broncos?

Type of product preferences: As far as which types of fan gear were searched for the most, you can see in the graphs below that jerseys are the top-searched Super Bowl team product. Hats and shirts are the next most popular items. More Seahawks fans want jerseys than anything else, whereas Broncos fans like a variety of fan apparel.

Super Bowl 2014 web searches by product type, Broncos

Super Bowl 2014 web searches by product type, Seahawks

Overall team preference: So who do we want to win overall? Out of the more than 160,000 online retail searches we reviewed, the Seahawks led search activity by the slim margin of 2.6 percent.

Looking at our search data, it was also interesting to see that online retail site searches for the Broncos or Seahawks were three to four times higher within the first three days after the NFC and AFC championship games than on days four and five after the championships. This suggests that online retailers should be ready to sell the winning teams' gear immediately after Super Bowl teams are decided — a good point for e-commerce companies to note in preparing for Super Bowl XLIX next year.

Whichever team wins, at least half of U.S. fans — and all online retailers who have been selling fan gear — should be happy with Sunday's result.

Read more about online retailing.

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