We’re back from our week of fun in the Bay Area, and I’ve returned to my blog. We enjoyed so many of the things that make my childhood home special; Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, a cable car ride, eating copious amounts of crab and sourdough, and a special treat from my childhood – Wright’s Pink Popcorn.
For anyone who grew up in or around San Francisco, bars of day-glo pink popcorn bring back vivid memories of childhood. Found at the zoo, Golden Gate Park, and a few other local destinations frequented by children, Wright’s is a brand that has truly stood the test of time.
As I opened up the crinkly cellophane and bit into this little bit of San Francisco history, I began to wonder about Wright’s, the company that makes Pink Popcorn and how they have hung in there through the decades when other companies have failed. What could this little local company teach others about business?
Hmmm, as I crunched through my treat, I came up with five obvious strategies that Wright’s has clearly used to keep the corn poppin’ so to speak. These strategies are incredibly smart and don’t just apply to a small consumer product business. They are valuable lessons for businesses of any size. Here’s what we all can learn from Wright’s Pink Popcorn success.
Focus on What You Do Best
Wright’s makes a very unique, regional treat, and they know it. They’ve made this their primary product and only offer a few other items. They don’t need to venture into the world of trendy gourmet snacks or take on national brands. They have a niche that no one else can fill.
If you do something unique or better than your competitors, stay focused on it. It’s most likely going to be your ticket to success. Just because a competitor chooses to broaden their service or product offerings, doesn’t mean you have to. By defining and promoting your specialty, you’ll build your reputation on exactly what you do best and won’t need to continuously be shifting your energies to keep up with fleeting fads.
Keep It Simple
There are only a handful of ingredients in Wright’s Pink Popcorn. Their popcorn bar only comes in one color, and they haven’t introduced any new flavors for it in the 60+ years that they’ve been in business. It’s not a complicated, hyped up flavor like cherry slush or arctic raspberry, and it’s not available in a rainbow of hues. It’s just pink flavor, and it’s perfect just like that!
The more streamlined you can make your business; the more likely you’re going to make it succeed. Taking a straightforward, no nonsense approach to business is always the smartest strategy.
Make It Memorable
Wright’s was ingenious with their ability to make their product memorable. Everyone who grew up in the Bay Area recognizes the utterly, out of this world color of its popcorn that they ate while enjoying family and school trips to the zoo and Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park. It’s etched into our brains and forever linked with our most fun and memorable childhood experiences. We might have forgotten the plain bag of chips or chocolate bar we ate, but who could forget the unmistakable taste of Pink Popcorn?
Businesses have to be memorable if they’re going to succeed. Blending in with the competition is a surefire way to fail. Be different, make your customers remember you, and remind them frequently of what you can offer them.
Find a Loyal Market
Wright’s undoubtedly knew who they were targeting when they created Pink Popcorn. They wanted to attract kids, so they colored their popcorn in a color that caught their attention, formed it into an easy-to-hold shape, and sold it where kids were located. Truly inspired marketing!
Several generations later, Wright’s is still focused on the same market. Although, they now have grown their customer base to include parents and grandparents who also enjoyed their products when they were kids, too.
If you want to find a loyal market such as the one that Wright’s has developed, first define who your target market is, develop your business with them in mind, and then nurture your relationships with them to the best of your ability. With this formula, you’ll build loyalty and grow your customer base for the long-term.
Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken
I’m sure that Wright’s could probably produce their Pink Popcorn more economically in another location. San Francisco isn’t exactly an inexpensive city to operate a business. They may have received buy-out offers from competitors. They might not be the most technically advanced snack food company. But, their business is a success, and millions of customers have eaten their Pink Popcorn. After six decades in business, they’re doing something right, and there isn’t a justifiable reason for them to change what they’re doing.
The latest technologies and innovations can certainly be helpful for many businesses, but they aren’t always the answer. Newer isn’t necessarily better. Perhaps, the key to a business with true longevity is applying the above five strategies. It’s easy enough to hire the smartest technical guru or buy the latest software, but without a good product or service and a smart plan, your business will stale faster than a brick of unwrapped pink popcorn.
So, I hope you’ll buy a bar of Wright’s Pink Popcorn the next time you’re in San Francisco and pay homage to a classic business that continues to succeed despite the changing times.