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Popcorn Business Tip: Strategize Your Pricing & Profits

How to Price Popcorn

In the popcorn business, setting the right price point is a key strategy for increasing profits. Pricing varies based on a number of factors. A serving of popcorn at a movie theater or amusement park is priced differently from that at a convenience store or little league concession stand. Popcorn is so affordable, there is great flexibility in setting pricing that is attractive to the customer while still generating strong profit margins.

Let’s explore some of the key considerations for pricing popcorn, plus look at how you can also use promotions and merchandising techniques.


Determine Your Costs

The first step in setting the right price for popcorn is to calculate your costs. This includes the cost of popcorn kernels, oil, seasonings, and packaging. Traditional popcorn costs can be less than a dollar per serving, as seen in this illustration, using 8-oz popcorn kits and 1.75-oz boxes:

Example: Popcorn Boxes
8-oz Popcorn Kits (#2838) = 29¢
1.75-oz Popcorn Box (#2063) = 25¢
= 54¢ food cost per serving
Suggested Retail – $3.00 per serving

Profit Per Sold = $2.46
Profit Margin = 82%

(Costs and profit projections are an estimate and for informational purposes only. These projections are not a guaranteed return on your investment. Cost does not include freight, shipping costs, or other miscellaneous supplies.)

Understanding your costs allows you to earn your full profit potential. This is especially important when producing gourmet popcorn flavors. With more ingredients, your cost per serving goes up. But the perceived value is higher, so the retail price also increases. There is flexibility in the profit margins so you can calculate the best price for your unique products. It may be helpful to keep a spreadsheet, so you can keep an account of your costs, retail price, and profit margins.


Pink and blue cups arranged in three rows holding caramel corn.

Know the Competition

What are other businesses in your area charging for popcorn products? To be competitive, you want to know more than just price. Compare quality, packaging, customer demographics, storefront, and other characteristics to help determine your niche. Take into consideration both fresh and prepackaged products. And remember to look at online competitors as well. Use the data to shape your pricing strategy and develop your top selling points. For example, if your popcorn is higher quality or has unique flavors, you may be able to charge a premium price.

Define Your Target

Knowing your customer base means understanding what price point suits your market. A shop in a college town would typically have lower prices than one located in a high-end shopping mall. Research your location and the demographics of the surrounding area. Make sure that the data supports the price you choose.


Various flavors of gourmet popcorn in clear dispensing tubes.


Bundling Pricing

Bundles are one way to encourage customers to purchase more popcorn. This involves offering discounts when customers purchase multiple items together. A simple example of this is selling a large popcorn and soda at a lower price than if the items were purchased separately. It can also mean a discount on bulk purchases. While this lowers the price per item, it will likely increase your overall profit because of the upsell. (Find more strategies in 8 Popcorn Marketing Ideas that Work.

Run Promotions

Promotions can be an effective way to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Limited time offers, like BOGO (buy one, get one free), encourage sales. Customers enjoy feeling like they are getting a special deal. Plus, you can use it as an opportunity to push select flavors you have in inventory or to create a buzz about a new flavor. Use printed or online coupons to drive more traffic to your store. Be strategic with your offers and don’t undersell yourself. Be sure you are bringing value to the customer as well as your business. (Get 12 Months of Popcorn Sales Ideas!)

Foster Loyalty    

Loyalty programs reward customers for repeat business. You can do this with a punch card that gives customers a free bag of popcorn for every 10 purchases they make. You can also encourage word-of-mouth advertising by offering a referral program. Customers who refer their friends can earn discounts on future purchases. Use social media to your advantage as well, making sharable content and special offers for your followers.


Gourmet popcorn in bucket tins and paper cones sitting in a white wire tray.


Seasonal Specials

Consider offering seasonal pricing as a way to influence more purchases. Capitalize on holidays or special occasions with gift baskets or special flavors. Make tropical flavors for summertime or holiday-inspired gifts for the winter season. Create a sense of urgency with limited time offers. Consider having a flavor of the month to keep the momentum going year-round.

Track Your Results

Pricing is a bit of an art form, so test your results by keeping a simple spreadsheet with the date, food cost, total sales (dollar amount and number of items sold), and your promotions. Use this to make informed decisions and put your plan in writing so that it’s easier to remember and execute. Make sure to keep up with any price increases on your ingredients and supplies, so added costs don’t cut into your profits. The extra work will bring value to your bottom line.

Determining the proper pricing will always be a work in progress. It is not something you just do once, but an ongoing process that you continue to evaluate as time goes on. It will help you maximize your profits and satisfy your customers. Make time to crunch the numbers and you will see the results!

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