Butterkist bagging on 'big night in' may not pay off, says analyst

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Money conscious consumers choose "big night in" food products
Money conscious consumers choose "big night in" food products

Related tags Savory snacks Potato chip Snack foods Ronan stafford

Butterkist’s promotional partnership with Universal aims to tap into the “big night in” consumer trend during times of economic difficulty, but one analyst doubts this tactic is enough in an increasingly competitive market.

UK brand Butterkist, owned by Tangerine Confectionery, hopes to cash in on the increasing number of people seeking products which allow them to recreate an evening out within their own homes in order to save money.

“When consumers are looking to recreate the movie experience at home, popcorn is the perfect choice. We believe that the big night in trend will only continue to grow in popularity, and as a result over the last year we have created new microwave formats, delicious savory flavors, and we have launched the exciting partnership with Universal,"​ Adrian Hipkiss, marketing manager at Tangerine Confectionery, told BakeryandSnacks.com. 

Consumer snack choices are motivated by three key elements, in order of importance - 'indulgence', 'time and place' and 'fun and entertainment', according to research from Canadean. However, Canadean analyst Ronan Stafford said that when looking at the motivation driving popcorn choice, consumers noted 'fun and entertainment' as the main consideration. 

Increasingly crowded market

Butterkist hopes to reaffirm consumer's affection with the brand by offering cinema-related money can’t buy prizes such as holidays at the Universal Orlando® Resort and invitations to red carpet film premiers. 

Yet Stafford has some doubts about the ability to place the fate of a product on just one associated activity.

“Whilst popcorn targeting things like a big night in with a movie is on trend for what people want, it’s going to be an increasingly crowded market. This is what’s going to limit popcorn. If all popcorn is targeting is movie nights in, then this is a very limited number of occasions,” ​Stafford told us.

Popcorn has shown strong growth over recent years, but it has been overshadowed by other products like potato chips within the savory snacks market which have shown considerably more promise, he said. Stafford said potato chip companies have tapped into the trend by offering large sharing bags meant to be eaten with dips and enjoyed with friends. 

Buying more for less

Talking in the past with BakeryandSnacks.com, Tesco snack buyer Lee Bannerman said that growth experienced had “ironically been helped by the economic downturn.”

However Stafford pointed out that while people may be buying more of these “big night in” snacks, the actual amount they are paying for them has reduced.

“Consumers are turning to more economical value brands which has devalued the market. Also there has been a strong rise in heavy discounting to actually get products out the door. That’s a trend throughout all food retail,” ​Stafford explained.

“If you look at the value of savory snacks between 2007 and 2012 ​[globally] the value of each market has actually declined. And that’s across all savory snacks, even potato chips. So while some categories are doing better than others I’d be very hesitant to say that they are benefiting from it [the economic downturn],” ​he added.

Savory snacks breakdown

Between 2007 and 2012 the volume sales of the global savory snacks market grew by a rate of 2.6% per year, but this 2.6% volume change was also a -1.3% value change, he said. "So volumes are still up, but the value is declining.”

As consumer confidence grows and the perception of economic difficulties fades, Canadean predicts growth both in volume and value of savory snacks. The firm predicts 4.2% value growth for 2012-17.

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1 comment

Butterkist response

Posted by Adrian Hipkiss,

The main aim of the Butterkist promotion is to reaffirm consumer’s affection with the Butterkist brand, by offering money can’t buy prizes, via the link up with Universal. Butterkist has always been a popular choice with consumers that are looking for a product to enjoy on a ‘big night in’, however it is not the main aim of the promotion to cater to this trend.

As you mentioned in your article, the main consideration for popcorn choice is ‘fun and entertainment’, and the Butterkist on-pack promotion with Universal does just that, by offering a blockbuster prize fund. The campaign offers thousands of prizes worth one million pound, which includes five action-packed holidays to Universal Orlando® Resort for four people and 10 glamorous trips for two to a star studded, red carpet London film premiere event. The holiday to Universal Orlando® Resort and the London premiere events will drive excitement around the brand, and the category, whilst engaging consumers and creating impact on shelf. We have also invested in our social media channels where we are connecting with consumers in order to build momentum and anticipation about the Universal partnership.

When consumers are looking to recreate the movie experience at home, popcorn is the perfect choice. We believe that the big night in trend will only continue to grow in popularity, due to the fact that family Saturday night TV viewing is increasing, and consumers are continuing to source in home snacks to enjoy. The big night in occasion is not just limited to Saturday night, and therefore it is a worthwhile market to tap into. In response to the big night in trend we have created new microwave formats, delicious savoury flavours, and we have launched the exciting partnership with Universal.

Whilst the Universal link-up strengthens the popcorn and movie relationship, this promotion is not aiming to purely target the film night in occasion. As previously mentioned the promotion will of course strengthen the brand link to movies, but the main aim is to offer consumers real money-can’t-buy experiences, as well as encouraging repeat purchase by providing an opportunity to enjoy 50 pence off their next purchase of Butterkist.

Via the Universal on-pack promotion we will be offering 50 pence off coupons for consumers to redeem against future purchases of Butterkist packs, in order to stimulate demand, through ongoing value. The launch of the on-pack promotion will build on our popcorn heritage and credibility, whilst reasserting Butterkist’s authentic position as the number one popcorn brand in the marketplace.

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