Kernels Popcorn’s Charitable History

We take great pride in working with so many Canadian brands and businesses, large and small. One fun Canadian brand we’re enjoying our work with is Kernels Popcorn. Over the last few months, we’ve managed their social media and created colourful content for it. The Kernels story began in 1983 when they opened their first flagship store in the Toronto Eaton Centre. Popcorn’s popularity grew through the 90s until today, as a healthier but still tasty alternative to oily snack foods such as potato chips.

In 1999, they introduced their first fundraising program called FUNdraise. In 2007, they started working with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2015 they launched the Kernels Optimism Project, “An initiative meant to create meaningful change and lasting impact in those communities and programs it supports”. Another important (and relevant) part of their history came in 2003, when they became an early food retailer to introduce the plastic gift card, which became the norm for many food retailers in the coming years.

Kernels Optimism Project and Local Fundraising

Supporting charities and fundraising has been integral to the Kernels brand for almost 20 years. The Optimism Project donates proceeds from specially marked bags or gift cards to charities such as Autism Speaks Canada and WE Charity. Kernels also promotes their product as a fundraising tool, letting people or organizations sell a special lineup of their products to raise money for their cause, such as supporting a sports team or school or a company raising money for a charity of their choice. All popcorn sold for fundraising purposes also donates proceeds to their Optimism Project. Popcorn is a fun and easy product for fundraising, appealing to many and convenient to sell and buy. Also, the option of gift cards lets people head to a location at a better time or order online instead.

Supporting charities and causes keeps growing in popularity with brands, which is great any way you slice it. But if the brand is authentic to its cause and seamless in how it supports these causes, it can benefit everyone involved. This is the case with Kernels Popcorn, who supports their own chosen causes while being an efficient tool to help others support their own agendas.

Appreciation for charitable brands growing, especially with millennials

Regardless of demographics, anyone can appreciate a brand that supports a good cause. With the millennial generation age range from mid-20s to late-30s, they’re roughly 30% of the population, they are the largest part of the Canadian workforce and now estimated to have the most spending power of any generation.

With appealing to millennials a priority for most brands moving forward, let’s look at why they prefer companies that give to charity.

Cone Inc Study via AdWeek:

  • 83 percent are likely to trust the company more
  • 79 percent are likely to purchase that company’s products
  • 44 percent are likely to actively pursue working at that company
  • 74 percent are more likely to pay attention to that company’s message because it has a deep commitment to a cause

Note millennials, in general, have grown up with financial anxiety, due to economic turmoil over the last 15 years. This can be seen in part as to why millennials aren’t as giving as Gen X and Baby Boomers (yet). What sets millennials apart is they are the most likely to volunteer and they’re the most responsive to charitable requests through social media and online. [Millennials and Giving – Angus Reid Institute]

Via Angus Reid Institute

Another important stat is millennials also are willing to donate more if the charity is right for them.

Via Angus Reid Institute

The Win-Win

Kernels has a two-sided approach to giving back, with their own charities and letting their product be a tool for customers to raise funds for the charity of their own choice. They also have a two-sided approach to sales, with actual products or their popular gift cards (online/in-store sales). Gift cards keep growing in popularity; the Mercator Advisory Group seeing prepaid gift cards growing year-over-year.

The combination of Kernel’s charitable nature, the convenience of online/gift card options and focus on social media marketing, makes their strategy a perfect fit for the growing millennial demographic. Charities get the support they need and customers get a classic snack they crave.

Learn more about Kernels Popcorn marketing in our post: Top 8 tips for a successful social media giveaway.