popcorn-boxes-scoop-box-xlPopcorn is a lesson in vertical integrationWhen film was young, the cinemas hated popcorn sellers, who were kept well outside the premises. Eventually, however….(according to The Smithsonian)

“….movie theater owners realized that if they cut out the middleman, their profits would skyrocket.  For many theaters, the transition to selling snacks helped save them from the crippling Depression. In the mid-1930s, the movie theater business started to go under. “But those that began serving popcorn and other snacks,” Smith explains, “survived.” Take, for example, a Dallas movie theater chain that installed popcorn machines in 80 theaters, but refused to install machines in their five best theaters, which they considered too high class to sell popcorn. In two years, the theaters with popcorn saw their profits soar; the five theaters without popcorn watched their profits go into the red. Eventually, movie theater owners came to understand that concessions were their ticket to higher profits, and installed concession stands in their theaters.

What can charities learn? For health or social charities in particular it’s about getting your offer where the people who need you are, regardless of whether you think they ‘should be’ there, or should already know, or whatever that tiny assumption or prejudice is. Samaritans are already advertising on the ends of station platforms. In mental health this could mean making sure there are leaflets at every GP surgery called ‘You can talk to your GP about mental health’ (to reach people who feel ashamed about bringing up their feelings with a doctor), or trying to reach the communities of young people on networks like Tumblr who post self-hating messages – which is one thing we are trying to do at my work at the moment.

Or – heart health messages on the side of heavily-sugared cinema popcorn..?