Taste Tomorrow, sponsored by Puratos, presented the results of a global consumer survey to shed some light on what consumers want.
What's the one constant regarding today's global consumers? That they're paradoxical, almost schizophrenic, when it comes to what they want.
"Consumers have different attitudes to food. They want one thing one day, something different another day. You can't put consumers in one box," said Matt Crumpton, vice president of marketing for Puratos. Crumpton and Hakim Zemni (pictured above, left to right), managing director of Insights Consulting, kicked off the second Taste Tomorrow event, hosted in Chicago by Puratos, by presenting 10 megatrends that resulted from the "Puratos Food Barometer," a 2011 survey of 6,400 consumers in 14 countries that asked about their views on bread, patisserie and chocolate.
The findings were as follows:
- Food apocalypse versus food utopia: Emerging markets, on the whole, are optimistic abut the future of food; mature markets, on the other hand, are much more skeptical about the future. The main takeaway is that despite the gap between the views of emerging versus mature markets, the global consensus among consumers is a preference for natural foods above all. In bakery, patisserie and chocolate, this is conveyed to the consumer best through perceived freshness--e.g. whether it was pulled out of the oven 30 minutes ago. For the retailer or manufacturer, this means they need to use cues to show the naturalness of their products, whether it's through the packaging label or the aroma of fresh bread baking in their shop.
- Quality versus price: Consumers want it all--quality and low price. Just being a brand isn't enough anymore; retailers and manufacturers can boost quality perception by creating a multi-sensory experience for their customers, combined with compelling stories.
- Storyselling: The future of marketing lies in the ability to express passion for one's products. Also called storyselling, this tactic involves telling compelling stories about your products--whether it's where they were invented or how the recipe evolved over time. This creates an emotional tie to the product and adds value--which means consumers likely will pay a premium for the product because they view it as unique or special. The advantage of the bakery industry, Crumpton says, is that consumers are naturally attached to the products, making storyselling that much easier.
- Global versus local: As consumers worldwide have increased access to both global and local products, food has become a tool for self-expression, much like fashion or music. For bakery, local is key, though consumers are spoiled and want the best of both worlds. The takeaway: Make global flavors and products available, but don't lost sight of your local identity.
- City brands: It's easier to sell a New York bagel in Tokyo than any other type of bagel. Why? Consumers are seduced by the authentic appeal of a city-branded product. City branding (e.g. Parisian macarons, Bombay naan) is another way to tell a story about your product--but it also offers the still largely untapped opportunity to export the knowledge surrounding that product as a way to spread your brand, boost quality perception and charge a higher price.
- Tradition versus innovation: There is a global consensus among consumers that tradition is future proof. We need to protect the heritage of bakery products, but that shouldn't come at the cost of experimentation. A telling statistic from the data revealed that 38 percent of Americans prepare food based on traditional recipes, and the same percent of Americans like to try something new. When it comes to marketing traditional products, retailers can adapt them by making them a different size or adding toppings, offering them alongside a local classic with a similar flavor, or keeping them as close to the original as possible. There are benefits to each--it depends on your target group.
- Meal mobility: There is unused potential in most markets surrounding meal mobility, as more and more consumers worldwide seek convenient, on-the-go food options. The highest-rated concept in the Puratos survey was that global consumers would like to see fresh bread delivered to their homes. At this point in the game, smartphone apps aren't a game changer when it comes to more mobile consumers. The key is convenience: making bakery and patisserie items easier to eat on the go.
- Small pleasures, big health: Consumers will always seek pleasurable products, even as their concerns about health continue to grow. It's all about striking the right balance between health and indulgence. On larger portion items that are consumed regularly, consumers want health cues, such as lack of artificial ingredients, lower calories or added health benefits. On the other hand, 61 percent of Americans snack on higher calorie products, and those moments are all about indulgence. "Keep it coming with the indulgence on those smaller portions," Crumpton says. "With bread, smaller portions aren't the way to go. It's more about health claims like more fiber."
- Authentic bakery feel: Supermarkets are largely getting it wrong when it comes to creating a unique, authentic feel. More than 80 percent of consumers in the Americas agree that the smell of freshly baked bread will tempt them to buy. Consumers want to see, smell, taste and feel the products--retail bakeries have the edge in this department. In order to compete, supermarkets need to tell a story through their packaging, displays, putting production on display to show consumers what they do.
- Bakery superstars and super bakeries: Bakery superstars are local bakeries that specialize in a top-selling product. To achieve this, make sure you know your best-selling products and tell their story. But don't forget about the rest of your product line in the process. Super bakeries are more future proof, as they are tapping into the appeal of greater consumer selection and convenience. Retail bakeries have great products, but they are still a destination for most consumers. Broaden your range and try offering more products to make it easier for the customer to come to you. Consider branching out into a mini market with items that complement bakery products.
In closing, consumers have become more demanding than ever (at times paradoxically so). Storyselling--building on that existing emotional connection to your brand--is the future of the bakery industry, the presenters said. "Make customers dream," Crumpton said. "They already love our industry and our products. Intensify their emotional engagement."