Innovation Insight: Butterkist Pop’n’Pour Microwave Popcorn

Innovation Insight: Butterkist Pop’n’Pour Microwave Popcorn

Butterkist Pop’n’Pour Microwave Popcorn is Gama’s focus this week, as we consider the latest addition to a growing UK popcorn market.

Released by Tangerine Confectionery as a new line under the Butterkist brand, Pop’n’Pour is microwave popcorn with an added extra – a sweet topping that is served warm. Rather than being ready-flavoured, the popcorn comes in packs which contain separate sachets of sauce designed to be warmed up and poured over the snack once it has ‘popped’. Consumers can choose from chocolate and chocolate orange flavours, and are instructed to warm the sauce sachets in hot water while the popcorn is in the microwave.

Pop’n’Pour is the latest in a string of product launches in the UK popcorn category, the success of which owes much to changed consumer behaviour in the face of economic pressures. With household budgets squeezed, consumers have cut down on discretionary spending such as out-of-home leisure activities including – to the notable advantage of manufacturers of popcorn – trips to the cinema. The rapid rise of popcorn as a UK retail category is impressive – two years ago the Daily Mail reported that the size of the market had tripled in just one year, while Tangerine Confectionery have themselves revealed a sales spike of 32% in the past year for the Butterkist brand.

Despite soaring sales, however, innovation in the popcorn category has perhaps proved somewhat one-dimensional, with most effort being spent on turning the product into a gourmet snacking option, predominantly through branding efforts and an emphasis on novel flavour combinations.

For microwave popcorn in particular, though, focusing on the inherent element of engagement – watching and listening to the corn ‘pop’ as it cooks – may prove to be equally significant in appealing to consumers. Manufacturers could choose to build on this sense of interactivity by developing new concepts that integrate an element of fun and play through an enhanced ritual – perhaps through “kits” that allow consumers to customize the product or packaging, or by incorporating novel taste or textural elements. As brands and products proliferate in the popcorn category, this type of differentiation could become increasingly vital for manufacturers looking to gain an advantage over the competition and attract new consumers to their brands.

Additional sources: Daily Mail