Hot Pockets are "HOT" Again?

The Lempert Report
July 03, 2023

On today’s Bullseye –can you remember when Hot Pockets hit the supermarket shelves back in 1983? It really was an innovation – a packaging sleeve and reformulated dough that would make a calzone like sandwich crispy and microwaveable. At the height of its success, the brand had 50 varieties of Hot Pockets and sales exceeded $2 billion a year. There is no doubt that the cult following of the brand has fallen to where in the lowest point sales was just in the millions and the brand went through a number of recalls.

So, marketing to the rescue – maybe! The new Hot Pockets sweepstakes is centered around the 30th anniversary of the Magic: The Gathering card game. Here’s what shoppers have to do – collect all 5 of the limited-edition Magic boxes then upload a photo of all 5 boxes and your supermarket receipt till September 30, 2023 – and get ready for this – one lucky? Maybe? person will win 30 years’ worth of Hot Pockets. Seriously? 30 years of Hot Pockets? I’m not even sure the brand will still be around in 30 years. And I’m only hoping that they are sending the winner a case every month or so… The good news is that there are a lot of winners who will receive codes to redeem Magic rewards. This promotion is off target. When Nestle bought Hot Pockets they tried to blame just about everything – from reformulating to healthier recipes to blaming the reduction in SNAP benefits on their lackluster sales. This promotion is not going to fix anything. If Hot Pockets is to stay alive it needs a complete makeover – not gimmicks. The good news is that during the height of the pandemic Hot Pockets increased their sales – part nostalgia, part availability, part comfort food and maybe part palate boredom? It’s time to relook at the potential Hot Pocket consumer and hone in on satisfying their taste, price and convenience needs.