Three years ago, Zac Chua, founder and CEO of The Gourmet Kettle shared with Vulcan Post about his entrepreneurial journey and his ideas about running a popcorn business.
The “popcorn boy” has expanded his business from a new company to a growing popcorn empire.
“Since 2018, The Kettle Gourmet has grown by leaps and bounds. I am proud to say that we have grown a lot since 2018 and that my team and I have worked hard to achieve 200% year-over-year revenue growth since we started, ”Zac told Vulcan Post.
Leveraging local palettes, he launched the flavors Nasi Lemak, Kaya Butter Toast, Choss Floss and Chili Crab, along with other classics like Salted Caramel and Chocolate.
The company previously operated from a central kitchen in Tai Seng, but has since expanded to a full-fledged factory located in Subang, Malaysia.
Kettle Gourmet popcorn is also offered at all 28 Fairprice Finest outlets, online on its own website, as well as at retailers such as Shopee, RedMart, GrabFood and foodpanda. Most recently, it joined AirAsia’s delivery service as its first supplier.
The Gourmet Kettle also offers customizable popcorn gift boxes, all decorated in bright colors and its easily recognizable monster pets snacks.
It has also expanded its business offering and now offers a subscription model so loyal customers can have a steady supply of popcorn.
COVID-19 did not support him in a corner
During the start of last year’s circuit breaker, The Gourmet Kettle had to pivot from serving primarily corporate customers and storing office pantries to focusing on consumers working from home.
They tried to increase their presence on social media to define themselves as the snack to go to work from home.
“As a young team with an average age of 22, we love creating fun and interesting posts – we’re all very fond of social media here at The Kettle Gourmet,” Zac said.
The team also used downtime during the circuit breaker to undergo a total brand change exercise and have since created a completely new look for the brand, which includes “snack monsters.” as pets.
According to Zac, the new brand has been a huge hit among customers of The Kettle Gourmet. His focus on spreading and changing the brand of social media bore fruit and The Kettle Gourmet’s revenue grew a whopping 247% amid the pandemic.
Listen to your customers
Zac firmly believes that listening to your customers can provoke or break your business. According to one Salesforce Report, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
“At The Kettle Gourmet, we are constantly evolving to increase our offerings for our customers and partners. From building on our digital-first approach through social media, joining our online retailer partners, to the recent launch of our new online subscription service on our website to enable customers order your favorite snacks more easily “.
Carefully listening to customer feedback and sales data has allowed Zac to plan new flavor releases, as well as eliminate older ones, keeping his collection fresh and in demand.
The most popular taste of the brand at the moment is Nasi Lemak. They sell a few hundred bags of Nasi Lemak popcorn every day, even after they’ve finished the switch.
Zac is constantly looking to keep its customers up to date, whether through new flavors or collaborations with other brands.
“Customer retention and value are important to us and one of the ways we aim to increase is to always look for exciting partnerships,” Zac said, adding that the team is currently working on a new licensing project with Pokémon.
“People” is at the core of your business strategy
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to take and listen to feedback up close, because it’s really about the customer,” Zac shared.
It gathers its employees every Friday to do team building sessions, as well as to see if they have ideas on how to improve the business.
He attributes this feedback loop and his constant investments in listening to his employees as the reasons why The Kettle Gourmet has grown so rapidly in the last three years.
Zac goes on to explain that these are the people he has in mind: if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers, who will then take care of the business.
“You only have to be right once, and the rest is history, so just ‘hit’! One of my business strategies, which I continue to implement today, is a multidisciplinary approach: make multiple efforts everywhere and see which ones work. good for us, with my employees and, of course, with our customers. “
A staunch supporter of networking, Zac is grateful to be and receive the support of entrepreneurial groups such as the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and the Youth Chapter of the Network of Leaders (BNYC).
He credits the success of The Kettle Gourmet to the customers, his team and the mentors who have supported him from the beginning.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Your network is everything, ”said Zac.
Building a popcorn empire
Sharing future business plans, Zac plans to transform The Kettle Gourmet into a conglomerate by building two more F&B brands in the next three to five years, with the ultimate goal of selling the company.
“I am also interested in introducing new overseas market opportunities such as China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines,” he said.
“Currently, my team and I are researching and developing new regional flavors so that consumers can enjoy these markets. We are also always looking for great distributors and potential partners in these countries to work with ”.
He added that they are currently only “five percent made” and have many more interesting flavors and collaborations up their sleeves. Sharing a teaser, Zac said customers can watch some of his latest flavors like Fish Head Curry and Pulut Hitam.
Are you interested in getting some of your popcorn? Check them out now on our new e-commerce site here.
Featured Image Credit: The Gourmet Kettle