Tag Archives: money

The Popcorn Effect

18 Mar

I often get asked by people that are new in business how to remain profitable in a down economy. To answer that question, let’s take a lesson from the Great Depression. Prior to the Great Depression movie theatres were luxurious buildings with grand, elegantly designed lobbies that rivaled the fanciest opera houses. What people do not know today is that the richly designed lobbies did not include concession stands.

What changed? The decade of the 1930s drove most Americans into dire financial straits.  People could no longer afford the relatively high price of a theatre ticket and movie houses were closing in droves. Some innovative theatre owners discovered that if they lowered the price of admission and sold an inexpensive snack, more people would come.

What was the solution? Popcorn! Popcorn is very inexpensive to make. The popcorn that you pay $5.00 for costs the theatre only 50 cents to make. The popcorn is served in an overstuffed bag or gigantic bucket to make the perceived value greater than it actually is. They also discovered that the more salt that you add to the popcorn, the larger the drink people will buy. To this day, far more money is made at the concession stand than on admission tickets (billions of dollars).

To thrive in business in today’s economy, you have to find your popcorn. You don’t have to try to create a totally new industry. You have to find a way to extract maximum profits from a market that people already have an affinity for. You have to find ways to overcome the financial barriers that would prevent people from buying, draw them in with perceived value, and make them feel comfortable with upsells, cross sells and side sells. They have to feel happy spending more money on your popcorn than the cost of admission. 

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