Rapidly growing popcorn category could herald greater category growth

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Popcorn has been hailed as Britain’s fastest-growing grocery product (ebbed on its health halo) which could lead to greater product development and category growth.

This is according to category and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne following the revelation that popcorn sales were up by more than 10% this year to reach £152 million.

Data from Euromonitor reports that Britons now consume twice as much popcorn as any other European nation, with only Americans eating more.

Gourmet brands offering flavours including goats’ cheese, teriyaki, and gin and tonic, have been performing particularly well as a time when sales crisps have declined for a third year running.

“The current momentum behind popcorn as an accessible snack, in part prompted by its perceived health benefits compared with other comparable snacks has helped propel sales,” said Caryn Gillan, Director of Category & Insights at Bridgethorne.

“There is nothing to suggest that this approach to healthy eating is going to slow down and suppliers and retailers could further exploit this trend through the development of new formats and products.

“But to take advantage of the trend suppliers must, as part of their approach to category management, demonstrate they understand and are able to meet both the shopper demand and the retailer’s expectations.”

This, said Gillan, means suppliers developing optimal ranging solutions in order to stay relevant and present.

“Retailers are continually looking for leaner, stronger ranges that reflect and meet changing shopper demand and deliver choice but in the most business efficient manner,” she said.

“Many suppliers, though, still don’t realise that reviewing their ranges is one of their best chances to positively influence their working relationship with retailer so that both can benefit from delivering more accurately what the shopper is looking for.”

But, said Gillan, not enough suppliers either understand effective category management or have the skills in-house to influence the account decision process, to increase or optimise shelf space for their products or enable them to build and interpret the information that will give them a competitive edge in their retailer relationships.

“As part of their approach to category management, suppliers need to understand how their range functions as part of its category,” she said.

“This includes whether their products, new or existing, are something for which a shopper would deliberately shop for or whether it is an impulse purchase. Then it is about analysing the range in the context of its category in terms of the shopper and consumer requirements and the competition.”