Quinn Popcorn – My ExpoWest 2013 All Around Product Pick

Popcorn over runneth this year’s ExpoWest, in a variety of delicious flavors and forms. So how did Quinn Popcorn rise to the top like…yes, a bag of microwave popcorn as my most innovative best product pick? It was a no brainer.

1. The packaging and instructional design kick ass.

Would that all startups could have a designer on the team. Here John Coulter explains their strategic approach to the design (starting with finding a designer on TheDieline.com) to make “cooking” this different sort of microwave popcorn a delightful and foolproof customer experience. You can see in the video they ended up using the back of the box for detailed constructions and numbering the packets for fool-proof popcorn popping.

2. The interesting popcorn flavors separate their brand from the crowd (pleasers)

Fir example: parmesan & rosemary, vermont maple & sea salt, and lemon & sea salt

Not necessarily mainstream appeal but intriguing, differentiating, and well executed.

3. They fixed a problem: Not so healthy microwave popcorn

It’s lovely that the corn used is non-GMO. That’s relatively easy to develop.But “that’s not all.” The Quinn team set out to solve a more complex problem. As they describe it: “The issue is that the susceptor is made up of paper coated with aluminum flake (or metalized film, or graphite) and PET (Polyethylene terephthalate – the same plastic use for most soft drink bottles)….” They don’t make any claims but took pains to develop a nicely puffy popcorn packaged in a paper bag (nice alliteration too).

quinn popcorn

Good Decisions Come From Good Research

A lot of legwork supported Quinn’s smart decisions. From the getgo, the team involved their local Whole Foods for feedback from packaging (to make sure the boxes would fit on the shelf) to how many boxes they should pack to a case (the answer: six).  “You can’t just google for that answer,” Coulter quipped. The team also conducted ethnographic research, meaning they watched consumer follow the instructions, use their packaging, and taste to find any pitfalls before going into production.

They tapped into the crowd for funding through a Kickstarter campaign (with nearly $28,000 raised). Quinn launched with three flavors and at ExpoWest introduced a bunch more, which gave them a chance to get some feedback as well as get new retail customers.

This all around “better for you” snack story won me over from start to finish. Speaking of stories, the Quinn Popcorn blog chronicles the play-by-play.

Quinn popcorn team