SkinnyPop Tries Its Halo on Microwave Popcorn

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Popcorn Share
1. Diamond Foods: 2013-2015; 2. Snyder's-Lance: 2016. Source: Euromonitor

Since its 2010 debut, SkinnyPop has become the third-largest brand in the $3.1 billion U.S. popcorn industry, behind PepsiCo's Smartfood and Conagra's Orville Redenbacher's, according to Euromonitor International. But where to grow from there?

It's now thinking out of the bag by taking its better-for-you branding into other categories, including one that fell out of vogue over health and other concerns: microwave popcorn.

"The loyalty is there, the equity is there and consumers trust the brand," said Pamela Finer, director of marketing for SkinnyPop parent Amplify Snack Brands. "When you've got a brand like that, it felt like the time was right to start extending because we felt like the equity had that potential."

Credit: SkinnyPop/Amplify Snack Brands, Inc.

Executives believe SkinnyPop can transfer its positioning as non-GMO popcorn without artificial colors, flavors, ingredients or preservatives from the ready-to-eat segment into popcorn cakes and microwave popcorn, categories with weaker sales trends than the bagged business.

SkinnyPop, which went public as Amplify Snack Brands in 2015, had 10.7% share in the popcorn category with $326.9 million in sales last year, up from 3.1% in 2013, according to Euromonitor.

The new categories are a "natural evolution" for the brand, said Shea Food Consultants President Rick Shea. "The challenge is certain brands can only take you so far based on how consumers perceive them and kind of the general brand attributes."

Bagged popcorn has been doing well at the expense of microwave popcorn, once a staple of movie-rental nights at home. Some people tired of even the minimal effort it takes to actually prepare popcorn in the microwave, while others became concerned about nutrition, ingredients and packaging.

SkinnyPop is not the only brand with new-wave microwave products. Jolly Time just introduced Simply Popped, which it touts as cleaner because it's made with only butter, sea salt, non-GMO popcorn and oil. With popcorn cakes, SkinnyPop faces PepsiCo's Quaker, the rice-cake leader.

To support the introductions, SkinnyPop is increasing its spending with a focus on areas including print, out-of-home, digital and social media. It began working with creative agency McGarrah Jessee in late 2016.

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