In the ecosystem of modern snacking, popcorn is a fun, healthy, convenient, on-the-go, dry snack that is increasingly drawing the interest of health and wellness conscious snackers who are increasingly looking for great-tasting snacks but without the guilt, and which includes lower fat and calories, and natural ingredients.
The popcorn market is expected to grow more than 11 percent CAGR over the next 5 years in Asia, according to reports. In India, the popcorn category makes up for less than 0.5 percent of the snacking market size whereas, in the US, it is 6 percent which indicates both the gap and the opportunity in this space.
Realizing the need gap in the market, 4700BC was launched, aiming to position popcorn as a mainstream snack like chips and namkeens. Since its inception and foray into the popcorn market in India, 4700BC has been working to develop new product offerings in both RTE/ RTC segments, which are perceived well by consumers as it is providing a steady stream of new flavors to keep them engaged, and increasingly, offering healthier and more flexible opportunities into all-day snacking and better-for-you snacks.
4700BC is available in more than 9 countries and has an omnichannel presence. Currently, the brand is present through all major trade channels, e-commerce, D2C, cinemas, airlines, railways, and retail (both modern trade and general trade) across major cities of India. It is the 'Top Seller' on most of the platforms like Amazon, Big Basket, Paytm, and Flipkart.
The brand offers over 50 SKUs, ranging from Rs 10-1,000, across different sizes and flavors in popcorn, protein pops (aka makhana), and corn-based snacks. Through its sweet variants, 4700BC has also forayed into the gifting industry and its products now cater to Indian festivals like Diwali, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and other regular gifting occasions.
“The pandemic blocked off the major two sales channels for us – Cinemas and Institutions, despite that we were able to tide over and clock three-fold growth, thus reinforcing the perception that cinema or no cinema, popcorn remains the favorite snacking companion for all occasions and across all content viewers,” Chirag Gupta, Founder, 4700BC said.
D2C: Paving the Way for Business
While the pandemic was quite harsh on some sectors, it also paved the way for sectors that took on a high growth trajectory. The pandemic has certainly fuelled the D2C growth story, with the simultaneous consumption evolution of digitization and e-commerce.
“We witnessed an accelerated growth for online channels, owing to which D2C models saw even further acceleration and greater emphasis,” Gupta asserted.
As a brand, 4700BC had started with a presence in offline retail before the D2C boom. D2C brought with it the opportunity to interact directly with the end consumer and to understand what they wanted. The brand had access to customer data as a significant tool, along with analytics and technology, to be able to deliver a more seamless and personalized brand experience for customers. It helped it establish a customer-first approach, creating a direct conversation network with them.
“Our D2C channel approach is to offer unique offerings and services which are bespoke and are exclusive to the website. For instance, customized flavor mix based on consumer liking, or personalization for the occasion. D2C channel for us will continue to be a large part of our strategy as it allows us to test new products and receive feedback from our customers quickly,” he added.
Technology at the Forefront
4700BC is focusing on streamlining its operations by enhancing its technology integration. From backend to frontend, everything is getting updated and getting integrated to give data for proper analysis.
“We have updated our backend with SAP and Unicommerce (logistics/ warehousing management software). For sales, we have the Freshdesk suite and Bizom for on-field sales employees. We have a strong MIS team at corporate to consolidate data for analytics purposes,” Gupta stated.
Creating Strong Brand Positioning
4700BC has been positioned as a 'Creator' Archetype brand. It builds categories or something unique within a category. Luxury and Premiumness stands at the core of its positioning.
“For a very long time, we continued to position ourselves as a premium snack via our visual language and products’ Look N Feel, but in our recent phase, we have moved our focus to communication too. Our recent digital campaigns around 'Entertainment', 'Valentine’s', 'Pataka', have been sleeper hits. So, we can say, we are subconsciously seducing this country with 'Luxury & Entertainment' pretty well,” Gupta noted.
By infusing freshness into a mundane category, 4700BC has turned popcorn into a gourmet offering today and plans to only take this positioning higher by surprising the consumer on the limitless possibilities of popcorn.
2020, the year of the pandemic, was not any different for 4700BC. Malls and stores were shut due to restrictions and no footfalls. Hence, the brand limited its stores and focused on increasing its presence through shop-in-shop formats. Currently, 4700BC has 23 Shop-in-Shop and 4 kiosks in malls.
“However, we are cautiously working on our expansion plans currently and opening only at selected safe locations. Once the pandemic fear is over, we may look at expanding faster. Our current focus is to remodel our stores as our offerings have increased and we will be implementing them soon at multiple locations,” Gupta said.
4700BC’s focus is to continue penetration through an offline presence in the cities it has been present in. Its current goal is to capture the metros and Tier-I cities and then reach out to Tier-II and-III through its digital channels.
“We garnered a revenue of Rs 15 crore in FY21 and are expecting to close FY22 at Rs 34 crore, delivering almost 2.25x growth in just one year,” he added.
“We will also focus on product innovation and integrating this snack into the lifestyle of the Indian consumer. Introducing new products, infusing genuine and fresh ideas into the category will help us bolster growth that the snacking industry is witnessing currently. The time and opportunity are right as the last two years have nudged consumers into readily adopting ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products,” he concluded.