As consumers' expectation for quality goes up, will trends eventually go away?
I have had the unique pleasure of writing several trend stories for Modern Baking over the past year. Much like fashion, food trends can often feel frenzied and even downright strange.
Obviously seasonal upticks and exposure to new flavors with our ever-shrinking globe always impact what’s hot in bakery, but through examining general bakery trends over the past year I’ve noticed that what consumers consistently want has more to do with their perception of quality in baked products. So, as I started working on this year’s Top 50 Largest Foodservice Bakeries article, I found myself wondering, will food trends go away?
“Trends have changed because everything moves so fast,” Brendan Sodikoff, founder of Doughnut Vault in Chicago, told me earlier this year. “The level of expectation for quality is replacing what’s trendy. It should be about what’s good. I’m personally a fan of seeing the idea of trends disappear. I think it’s really healthy.”
This sentiment was echoed at Taste Tomorrow, hosted by Puratos in October, when the results of a global consumer survey were presented. Above all else, consumers worldwide want “natural” or quality foods, which bakeries can most literally convey through perceived freshness (e.g., the aroma of bread baking, time stamps on product packaging or windows to the production area so consumers can see product being made). But they can also boost quality perception by showing consumers their passion for the product and the process of creating it. This is where storyselling, or telling compelling stories about products to engage consumers emotionally, comes in.
As a Millennial myself, the very idea of storyselling is exciting to me because it is rooted in authenticity. We consumers can tell almost right away if you’re lying to us, and above most things, we hate being tricked.
But I also love this concept because—marketing tool or not—it reminds us all of why people get involved in the bakery industry to begin with: because they love to bake and they love bringing joy into people’s lives by helping them mark special occasions or simply provide a sweet, small respite from the daily grind.
“The advantage of the bakery industry,” Puratos VP of marketing Matt Crumpton said, “is that consumers are naturally attached to the products, making storyselling that much easier.”
That being said, perhaps there will always be “It” products, be they fad diet foods or crazy-patterned pants. But at least we can take comfort in the fact that we consumers always come to our senses and relinquish those items to the trash or the back of the closet in favor of slow-fermented, artisan bread from the neighborhood bakery and our favorite pair of jeans. Because those two items will never go out of style.