Punching Above Your Weight: Popchips' Contender Story



The Challenge

Popchips is a small brand in a big pond of snacking, where it is easy to get lost. It’s always looking to punch above its weight, going up against the likes of Frito-Lay in the $20 billion snack category.

It is also operating in the space between dull-tasting but healthy snacks and the delicious but bad-for-you snacks. Its message is one of being able to turn anything into a snack as long as it tastes great and is better for you. As CMO Marc Seguin put it at MediaPost’s Data & Programmatic Insider Summit in March 2018, “There can be bold snacking that tastes good and is good for you coming from a company that challenges the status quo.” (Here’s a link to the video presentation.)

Popchips has seen that Millennials, especially, have moved from the traditional three daily meals to eating seven or eight snacks instead and is looking to engage that demographic. To that end, it identifies its snackers as healthy people who love chips and have an emotional connection to them. They have a high income, are highly educated, strongly Millennial with a broad demographic mix located on both coasts and starting to fill in the center of the country.

It aims to “seduce the right snackers” and that involves having a statistical model on who drives its category, its purchases, who is most likely to convert and what they want to hear from Popchips.

The Execution

Popchips tells an interesting brand story, delivering it to one snacker at a time. Through an omnichannel approach, it communicates on a one-to-one basis online and off, developing its message into a media plan that leverages programmatic.

It has produced a video ad that tells the viewer to “silence that little voice in your head, live how you want to live, do what you want to do, eat what you want to eat.” And goes on to explain that one can snack on Popchips, which are “deeply satisfying but never deep fried,” calling the product “freedom in a bag.”

As Seguin outlines it, the company creates content that comes in the form of a message that will resonate with snackers. Instead of talking about a snack made with great ingredients, never fried, less than 100 calories, which he calls an analytical argument in “head space,” Popchips talks about the brand in “heart space,” the emotional space. Consumer reaction to advertising to the events Popchips creates, to the press coverage it gets drive the traction with “busy balancers” and the purchase in the offline consumption in a material way. 

The goal is to break through clutter with great content, a 360-degree approach that is targeted online and off. Campaigns are designed to connect the emotional component, resonating with digital video, out of home, banners, video influencers and in social.

Over the summer, the brand ran a “skinny chipping” video of happy, thin people partying, snacking, listening to music, bringing to life that consumer it had already identified.

When the brand started out 10 years ago, it paid such influencers as Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher to talk about its product for three or four years but turned to less well-known influencers, people who have maybe 4,000 followers. It works directly with influencers to find people who fit the brand and embrace the message. Engagement, Seguin says, is three to four times higher than anybody in the category. “It’s the right message, speaking in the right way through the right mediums.”

Banking on emotion, the brand launched a new product, Nutters, a peanut butter-covered puff and is testing it in the Denver market with samples, activations, outdoor, and in-store. “There’s a nostalgic connection to peanut butter,” he says. 

The Results

Using local radio, key retail, and digital media ads, Popchips made a big push into Nashville, which it says drives the Southeast. Adjusting the marketing mix in real time according to where it was going be and using contextual Nashville advertising, the brand saw sales double in the stores.

Popchips’ favorite brand status is “way off the charts,” Seguin says. And, it is one of the fastest-growing brands in the better-for-you category. The brand has found a mix of tools that are not very expensive and that can measure effectively, drive revenue and scale that for more markets.

In Denver, where it is leveraging more of a premium marketplace, the brand enjoyed great velocity. A Nielsen Brand study found a 160% lift in purchase consideration. While running a campaign there, Popchips found in-store sentiment was 100% positive, which happens only when you’re reaching consumers with a meaningful message.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications