To Price or Not to Price for Popcorn Sales

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custom_price_tag_13786This weekend, I went out and visited various Units at their Show and Sell location. Most of them followed their training and set up a striking display.  Many of the Units had a poster with pictures of activities they had done or events they wanted to do in the near future.  They had their product properly displayed.  Those Units who had tables had everything nice and neat.  However, there was one significant difference between the Units.  Half of the Units had prices either on a large price sheet or on the actual product.   The other half had no prices at all.

So what is the difference?

I spoke to all of these Units as to why they chose or chose not to display prices on the product.

For those who posted prices, the main reason was to make it easier on the Scouts. Pack leaders wanted the Cub Scouts to tell the customers what the price was.  By having the price on the packaging, the Cub Scouts did not have to remember the price as it was on the packaging.  There were a couple of Troops who had placed prices on the product as well.  When asking the Scouts why they placed prices on the product, there was one common denominator.  None of these Troops had a Popcorn Kickoff.  Most of the Scouts knew nothing about the product before they arrived at the Show and Sell location site.  In both cases, putting prices on the product made it easier for the Scouts to know their products better.

I also asked Units who did not put pricing on the product why they made decision. It most cases the decision was intentional.  Unit leaders believed they were not selling popcorn but selling Scouting.  They wanted the customer to agree to support the Scout before they chose which product to buy.  In every instance, the Unit had a formal Popcorn Kickoff and many had an activity at their Kickoff where Scouts learn about the different products and what they cost.  This made it easier when the Scouts were discussing the product options with the customer.  Now there were a few Units who did not even think about putting the price on the product.  It had never crossed their mind, but they all had an Order Form available which had the pricing in case there was a question.

One Pack did have a different idea to help their Scouts. Rather than place the actual price on the product, they placed different color stickers for the different prices of the product.  They used an Orange sticker for $10 Products, Green for $15 and Yellow for $20 Products.  All the Cub Scouts needed to remember was three prices for the three colors.  It allowed them to know the price without displaying it.

I believe prices should not be posted on the packaging. The main reason for this is more consumer psychology than anything else.  Many location sites only allow Scouts to ask for the sale as the customer exits the building.  If the price is posted, the consumer has already made the decision to buy or not before the Scout has the opportunity to ask.  This also limits the volume of Military Donations you may accumulate because the customer ‘never comes to the table’.  In addition, I agree with those leaders who say we are selling Scouting and not popcorn.  Popcorn is a commodity which can be purchased cheaper inside the grocery store.  Customers want to buy from a Scout to support the Scout.

However, let’s look at the numbers. I asked every Unit to send me a text on how much they sold at their site on that Saturday.  Each of these locations sold for 8 hours.  Of those who sent in their numbers, Units who placed prices on the product sold on average of $585 or $73/hour.  Units who did not have prices on average sold $960 or $120/hour.  This alone should make a decision for most Units.

I understand the need for wanting to help Scouts be successful and placing the price on the product may seem to do this. Nevertheless, based on the numbers, Show and Sell locations have fewer customers thus fewer containers sold if the price is prominently displayed.

Good Luck and keep selling.

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One thought on “To Price or Not to Price for Popcorn Sales

    Mirandy said:
    September 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Thank you for this article. I have been popcorn kernel for 6 years now in Washington State. We have found that if you put a small price tag on the bag it helps people get change while in the store. The price tags are small enough that they have to wander over to the table or ask questions.I have often wondered the difference and will encourage our scouts to go tagless on the next few booths! I have already reposted this blog for them to read.

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