Flavor Trends

Fine-tuning flavors could help Moose Munch & The Popcorn Factory boost sales

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Fine-tuning flavors could help Moose Munch The Popcorn Factory sales

Related tags Retailing

Gourmet food and gift company Harry & David has an ambitious goal to make its iconic and decadent Moose Munch popcorn line a $100 million brand within the next two to three years in part by expanding distribution and fine-tuning its flavors to create consistent sales all year, according to executives. 

Currently the brand, which is sold primarily direct to consumer as gifts, “has a long way to go” ​to get to $100 million, admits Steve Lightman, president of Harry & David. But he is confident the brand, which is worth more than $50 million currently, can succeed by expanding its reach through different retail channels to tap into consumers’ growing demand for ready-to-eat popcorn.

To expand distribution, the firm has been working closely with retailers across channels to create Moose Munch products that fit their needs, including different package sizes and price points, said Joe Koch, VP of sales for the brand. For example, he said, the brand created a $2 Moose Munch travel-size products to be sold in airport stores, a $5 package for grocery stores and a larger $20 product for high-end department stores.

The packaging also varies by retailers need, he said, noting that they can provide convenience stores with a smaller to-go bag that can be pegged and department stores with more substantial canisters that are appropriate for gift-giving.

The company also is working with retailers to create channel specific marketing plans, Koch said. He explained that Harry & David has substantial resources following its acquisition last fall by 1-800-Flowers. In addition, because Moose Munch is already a well-established brand, the company can focus on marketing at the channel level, rather than needing to focus on consumer outreach, per se.

The firm’s flexibility and the brand’s heritage helped Harry & David land accounts with Macy’s, Publix, Kroger and Bed, Bath & Beyond, to name a few. It also is negotiating deals with drug stores and other retailers, Koch said.

Fine-turning flavors

Harry & David also plans to expand the brand’s sales by fine-tuning the varieties of Moose Munch available at any given time, Lightman said.

He explained that Moose Munch currently comes in 30 different flavor combinations, and is primarily sold during the holiday season, but that company is narrowing its offerings at any given time so that it can focus on expanding the package sizes.

“We are trying to come down to creating a palate of flavors per season, which would keep consumers more engaged with the product”​ all year, he said. For example, the company is exploring offering Moose Munch products without chocolate during the warmer summer months, which can cause the confection to melt. It also wants to roll out limited-time flavors of the year or month, which create a sense of urgency for purchases, he said.

Why now?

The expansion of Moose Munch is being driven by the firm’s acquisition by 1-800-Flowers, which created marketing synergies and stability to expand production and marketing beyond just the holiday seasons, Lightman said.

He explained when David & Harry was previously owned by private investors that controlled a diverse portfolio, they wanted short term returns, which meant focusing on David & Harry’s established strength as a holiday product.

But now, 1-800-Flowers is in a position to invest in the company for longer-range returns and growth, which gives it wiggle room for research & development and new marketing efforts.

The Popcorn Factory follows suit

The Popcorn Factory, another brand under 1-800-Flowers, also is pursuing a similar strategy as Moose Munch to expand sales by streamlining its flavor options, Alan Petrik, COO of The Popcorn Factory, told FoodNavigator-USA.

Like Moose Munch, The Popcorn Factory made its name in the direct to consumer gift segment and only recently branched out into the mass food and drug specialty channel, said Alan Petrik, chief operating officer for the firm.

Also, like Moose Munch, The Popcorn Factory is pairing down the types of flavors it offers at any given time so that it can rotate its options and keep the brand fresh and in front of consumers all year.

Current trends demand expanded savory popcorn options that include, but also go beyond hot and spicy, sea salt and cheese, he said. For example, he noted, one new savory flavor The Popcorn Factory is launching is mesquite barbeque. The firm also offers Buffalo Ranch, Cracked Pepper and Jalapeno.

The firm also will introduce several sweet flavors, including birthday cake, cinnamon and sugar and a limited time season pumpkin spice and dark chocolate cherry cordial, he said.

New Packaging

The Popcorn Factory also is updating its packaging to infuse more color and to allow consumers to see the product, Petrik said.

He added that new packaging also is simple and focuses on the product name, brand and a visual of the actual product.

He expects these changes also will help the company create consistent year-around sales and tap into consumers’ growing interest in ready-to-eat popcorn, sales of which IRI reports increased 44.2% in 2014, on top of a 38% increase in i2013 and a 32.9% increase in 2012.

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