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U.S. THEATERS Nestle urges filmgoers to mix popcorn, candy



Published: Wed, February 12, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



One consumer-behavior analyst says the ploy 'sounds like a boon for whoever is selling the movie theaters' napkins.'

DOW JONES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Nestle SA is counting on a sweet 'n' salty mixture of melted butter, popcorn and slightly messy chocolate candy to get film aficionados to chow down at the movie-theater concession stand -- and, hopefully, while hunkered down in front of an entertainment center at home.

For about the last six months, Nestle has slapped a suggestion on the side of popcorn bags and buckets typically found at the movie candy counter. The signs hint to consumers that it might be nice to mix the company's popular Goobers, Raisinets or Sno-Caps into a warm container full of popcorn.

The food concern intends to keep the promotion going. At movie theaters, the "big thing" for owners is getting consumers "to buy popcorn, soda and a candy," says Andrew Pearson, marketing manager for Nestle's movie brands. Most times, moviegoers "buy the drink and the popcorn, and they don't always buy the candy."

Targeting homes, too

If Nestle has its way, the gooey recipe could make its way to the family room and -- the family-room rug. Swiss-based Nestle is talking to retailers about trying to create "movie sections" within their stores. Such areas could put "some of the chocolate next to a tub of microwaveable popcorn," Pearson said.

There are those who believe that hot, buttery popcorn and melted chocolate candy represent two great tastes that may not taste so great together, to mangle a marketing phrase from one of Nestle's chief rivals.

"It sounds like a boon for whoever is selling the movie theaters' napkins," scoffs Greg Kahn, chief executive of Kahn Research Group in Charlotte, N.C., which analyzes consumer behavior for retailers and food service businesses.

While he praises the idea of "getting a name on the popcorn bag and getting people to think about the candy," since most people eat either popcorn or candy during a visit to the film center, Kahn wonders about the goody-bag mixture. "It does not sound appealing at all."




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