As 2010 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the year. At its start, many were optimistic that things had to get better after a dismal 2009. While the economy has improved somewhat and the recession is officially over, the protracted recovery has kept consumer spending low and unemployment high.
It is true that this year was not quite as bad as the previous, but the economy still leaves a difficult situation for bakery products, which, while an inexpensive indulgence, are non essential food items, and operators must find ways to attract consumers in an essentials-only buying mindset.
In this issue, Modern Baking’s Top 50 reports look at how the in-store bakery and foodservice markets have fared. Both markets experienced limited growth in new locations and product sales–not surprising given the economic climate of 2010, but operators are finding methods to attract customers. In fact, the economy is forcing operators to become creative in both marketing and merchandising. One in-store bakery director has mentioned in the past that the recession forced operators into making some difficult decisions– decisions that probably should have been made sooner.
It is true that the economic conditions of the past several years forced many operations to streamline their businesses, and for those companies that made the tough decisions in time, the result is often a slimmer but profitable version of their former selves.
In bakery, many of the Top 50 chains for both foodservice and in-store bakery are seeing product line extensions, a shrinkage of portion or product size and an increased presence on social media websites.
It all comes down to listening to what customers want, and finding out what they want is easier than ever. Those chains that have established a presence on Facebook or Twitter have found that customers are willing to tell them what they think about the business, both good and bad. Consumers are more able and willing to communicate than ever before.
It is up to you, the operator, to listen to them.