Three years ago, Zac Chua, Founder and CEO of The Kettle Gourmet, shared with Vulcan Post about his entrepreneurial journey and insights into running a popcorn business.
The "popcorn guy" has since grown his business from a young startup to a growing popcorn empire.
“The Kettle Gourmet has grown by leaps and bounds since 2018. I am proud to say that we have grown significantly since 2018 and my team and I have worked hard to achieve 200 percent year-over-year revenue growth since we started, "Zac told Vulcan Post.
The Kettle Gourmet's range of classic and local flavors / Photo credit: The Kettle Gourmet
He resorted to local palettes and released the flavors nasi lemak, kaya butter toast, chicken floss, and chili crab, as well as classic flavors like salted caramel and chocolate.
The company used to operate from a central kitchen in Tai Seng, and has since expanded into a full-fledged factory in Subang, Malaysia.
The Kettle Gourmet's popcorn is also available in all 28 Fairprice Finest stores online on its own website, as well as at retailers such as Shopee, RedMart, GrabFood and foodpanda. Most recently, it was the first to join the AirAsia delivery service.
The Kettle Gourmet also offers customizable popcorn gift boxes, each decorated with bright colors and their easily recognizable snack monster mascots.
The Kettle Gourmet Popcorn Gift Box / Image credit: The Kettle Gourmet
The company has also expanded its business offering, now offering a subscription model so that loyal customers can continually deliver popcorn.
COVID-19 hasn't cornered him
A livestream from The Kettle Gourmet / Image Credit: The Kettle Gourmet – Facebook
At the start of the breaker last year, The Kettle Gourmet had to move from serving mostly corporate customers and stocking pantries to consumers who work from home.
They have made it their business to increase their social media presence to stand out as a snack for work from home.
"As a young team, with an average age of 22, we love creating fun and engaging posts. We all love social media here at The Kettle Gourmet," said Zac.
The team also took advantage of the breaker downtime to undergo a complete rebranding, and have since created an entirely new look for the brand, featuring the “snack monsters” as mascots.
Kettle Gourmet rebranded packages / Photo credit: The Kettle Gourmet – Facebook
According to Zac, the new branding was a huge hit with The Kettle Gourmet customers. His focus on social media reach and rebranding paid off, and The Kettle Gourmet's revenue rose a whopping 247 percent amid the pandemic.
Listen to your customers
Zac strongly believes that listening to your customers can affect or affect your business. According to a Salesforce report, 66 percent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
“At The Kettle Gourmet we are constantly evolving to expand our offerings for our customers and partners. From building our digital-first approach to social media and expanding our online retailers' partners to the recent launch of our new online subscription service on our website so that customers can order their favorite snacks more easily. "
By carefully listening to customer feedback and sales data, Zac was able to plan new flavor launches and phase out older ones to keep his collection fresh and in demand.
The brand's most popular flavor right now is Nasi Lemak. They sell a few hundred bags of Nasi Lemak popcorn every day, even after the breaker closes.
The Kettle Gourmet's Nasi Lemak Popcorn / Photo credit: The Kettle Gourmet – Facebook
Zac constantly strives to keep its customers on their toes, either with new flavors or by collaborating with other brands.
"Customer loyalty and value creation are important to us. One of the ways we want to increase is to create exciting partnerships," said Zac, adding that the team is currently working on a new licensing project with Pokémon.
"People" is at the heart of its business strategy
"One of the biggest lessons I've learned is to listen carefully to feedback because it's really all about the customer," said Zac.
He gathers his employees every Friday for team bonding sessions and to see if they have any ideas on how to improve the business.
He cites this feedback loop and his consistent investment in listening to his employees as reasons why The Kettle Gourmet has grown so rapidly over the past three years.
Zac goes on to explain that it's all about the people in his eyes – if you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers, who then take care of business.
“You only have to be right once, and the rest is history, so just“ hit ”! One of my business strategies that I still implement today is a multi-layered approach: I make several efforts everywhere and see which ones work well for us, my employees and of course our customers. "
A passionate advocate of networking, Zac is grateful to be part of and receive support from entrepreneurial groups such as the Entrepreneur & # 39; s Organization (EO) and the Bosses Network Youth Chapter (BNYC).
He attributes the success of The Kettle Gourmet to the customers, his team, and his mentors, who have supported him from the start.
"It's not what you know, it's who you know. Your network is everything," said Zac.
Building a popcorn empire
Zac shares his future business plans and plans to turn The Kettle Gourmet into a conglomerate by building two more F&B brands over the next three to five years with the aim of selling the company.
"I'm also interested in exploring new overseas market opportunities such as China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines," he said.
“My team and I are currently researching and developing new regional flavors for consumers to enjoy in these markets. We are also always looking for great distributors and potential partners in these countries to work with. "
He added that they are only "five percent done" right now and have a lot more interesting flavors and collaborations up their sleeves. Zac shared a teaser saying customers can keep an eye out for some of its newest flavors like Fish Head Curry and Pulut Hitam.
Would you like to get some of your popcorn? Check out these now on our brand new ecommerce website here.
Selected image source: The Kettle Gourmet