A Letter to Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn

I was shopping for popcorn recently and was faced with a dilemma… Those of you who really know me know that I take every decision very mindfully and even what might be a minor thing to most people, is thoroughly analyzed when I make it. So here is the story of when I was challenged by the purchase of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. Leave a comment to let me know if you have ever faced this type of challenge.

The Orville Redenbacher’s Dilemma

So, there I was, standing in front of the popcorn selection in the local ‘Walmart’… First I narrowed it down by brand, then by product… I typically select the “Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater” style because we like to have a good amount of butter flavoring on our popcorn, but then I saw the “Orville Redenbacher’s Ultimate Butter” product and thought “wow, that sounds really good. That must have a lot of butter.” So I picked up the package to take a closer look.

I turned the box around, and flipped it over looking for some type of description that I could use to compare this product with the other products… and nothing. The package hardly had anything written on it. The package was primary colored red, which is known by product marketers to trigger a hunger craving response. It had the standard nutrition label that is required by law; it had a popcorn photo on each side, and a little bit of writing telling the reader what the manufacturer named the product. Other than that, the box had a lot of empty space.

Orville Redenbacher's Ultimate Butter popcorn
Orville Redenbacher’s Ultimate Butter popcorn

Comparing Products

Next I picked up a package of my usual product, the “Movie Theater Butter” flavor popcorn, and discovered the same lack of information. I turned the package around and flipped it over so that I could read the writing on all sides, only to find a lot of empty red space.

Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter popcorn
Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn

Next I took another look at all of the product offerings on the shelf. I was trying to determine the difference between some of the other products to see if maybe I missed something.

The Display

Some of the products on the shelf seemed to be aligned based on the amount of flavoring… However, when I compared this finding with the other manufacturers, I discovered that this was inconsistent and could not be considered a reliable indicator.

The Look of the Packaging

My next thought was to compare the pictures on the packaging. If the manufacturer is proud of their product they should want to display it accurately with a good quality photo. However, what I discovered was that nearly every Orville Redenbacher product on display had the same popcorn photograph on the package. Some packages had the photo lighter to indicate less flavoring. Some had more yellow or orange to indicate butter or cheese flavoring, but almost all of the products displayed the same exact popcorn photo, just edited for coloring. The “Movie Theater” and “Ultimate” butter packages appeared to have the same, exact picture. (How cheap is that?)

Orville Redenbacher's Butter popcorn
Orville Redenbacher’s Butter popcorn

For The Good of Mankind – I Took Action

Today I decided to take the time to figure out how to write a letter to ‘Orville Redenbacher’ to let them know how I feel, and to provide some suggestions for improving their packaging to help prevent other people from facing this same dilemma.

First I ‘Googled’ “Orville Redenbacher” (I spelled it wrong, but Google knew what I meant.”). This provided me with the company’s website (https://www.orville.com/). Then I browsed the website a bit, found some interesting recipes, their product listings, a bit of company history, then eventually the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page.

Orville Redenbacher 1979
May he rest in peace.
Orville Redenbacher, 1979

Company Profile

Well, it turns out that the “Orville Redenbacher’s” brand is not it’s own company, but is owned by “Conagra Brands Incorporated” (headquartered in Chicago, Illinois; Owned by Ardent Mills) who also owns a number of large brands that you may recognize such as ‘Slim Jim’, ‘Hunts’, ‘Healthy Choice’, ‘Birds Eye’, ‘Duncan Hines’, ‘Reddi Wip’, ‘Vlasic’, and many more.

My Letter

Below is the comments that I provided to ‘Conagra Brands’. I really hope that they take the time to read my comments, and take action on my suggestions. These comments will make choosing the best product for your taste buds much much easier; and should provide them with happier customers and better reviews. (The reviews left on their website don’t reflect well on the products.) And I meant what I said about the product descriptions on the website being unhelpful.

Attn:

Orville Redenbacher’s Marketing Division

c/o Conagra Brands Inc.

To Whom It May Concern,

I was shopping for popcorn at Walmart yesterday and knew that I wanted to buy Orville Redenbacher’s, but I had difficulty deciding on which product type to buy.  My family likes a lot of butter so we typically purchase ‘Movie Theater Butter’ popcorn, but this day I noticed the ‘Ultimate Butter’ and became interested in that…  However, when I took a closer look and compared the ‘Movie Theater’ popcorn to the ‘Ultimate’ popcorn I just couldn’t figure out the difference.  There was no helpful description on the package, and all of your product packages have the same popcorn picture on the box, so there’s really no way to tell them apart. So I chose one and hoped for the best.

I understand that this probably seems trivial to a large company like you, but I am one of many, many Americans who put thought into the things I buy.  I am telling you this story because I think that you could make a few minor improvements to your packaging which would make the decision making process a lot less stressful for people like me, and will in turn increase your sales significantly.

  1. Add a chart on each of your packages listing each of your popcorn products. Indicate the amount of butter and salt for each product so that the client can make an informed decision as to which product to buy. For reference, look at maxipad packaging.
  2. Add a short product description to the packaging. It doesn’t have to be much, just tell me what to expect. (BTW, the product descriptions on your website are lacking. It’s a start, but insufficient)
  3. Get new pictures. Using the same picture for nearly every package is just sad. Photographers aren’t THAT expensive. Again, show me what to expect. The picture should somewhat closely represent the product that I will receive.

If you have any questions or response for me, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

<My Name>

<My Address>

Phone: <My Phone Number>

Leave a comment to let me know about a challenge like this that you have faced.

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