The Mexican village square motif in Carnival Super Markets’ 24 in-store bakeries removes the barriers between baked products and customers, placing products right under their noses and making it difficult for them to resist.
“We are trying to take the thinking out of it for the customer and make it as easy as possible,” says Faye Greenberg, vice president, deli-bakery merchandising. “A lot of research goes into achieving that. We went out and visited a lot of our competition, higher volume Hispanic stores throughout the country. If you stand there and really just look at the ease of shopping, it clues you in to the minor things you can do to sell more product.” Carnival bolsters its research with focus group studies, which it relies heavily on to keep up with customer demand.
|Although many products are self-serve, Carnival’s bakery design encourages interaction between staff and customers.|
|The bun run (right) showcases the large variety of products that Carnival offers and allows customers to mix and match items.|
One strategy that helps to take the thinking out of bakery shopping can be found in the large, self-service “bun run.” An 18-ft.-long, 6-ft.-tall display case, containing 135 trays of Mexican rolls and pan dulce (sweet breads), such as empanadas (fruit-filled pastries), conchas (egg bread rolls iced with pastry creme) and baderillas (puff pastries with egg glaze).
“The bun run is self-service, so the customer can take a bag or box and load up,” Greenberg says. “Self-service is speedier than waiting for someone, and that way, people are really getting the exact items that they want out of a large variety. It also helps impulse buying because there is no waiting.”
With the huge variety, right down to which box, bag or packaging materials to use, customers are thinking about exactly what combination of baked products to select. What they aren’t thinking about, though, is whether or not to buy the products in the first place. By taking that thinking out of the equation, the customers don’t make that decision; Carnival virtually makes it for them. Setting and advertising effective price points is another way to take the thinking out of the shopping for customers.
“With the bread, we find that the customers will get the large plastic bag, and they’ll buy five or 10 at a time, not just three or four,” Greenberg says. “They don’t break it down in terms of 20 cents a roll, they’re thinking of five for a dollar.”
The strong self-serve elements at Carnival doesn’t eliminate interaction between customers and staff. The staff makes use of the intercom to update customers throughout the store about hot bread coming out of the oven. “They hear that and come running,” Greenberg says.
Decorated cakes also make up an important part of Carnival’s bakeries. The decorators are in full view of customers and are wearing microphones to provide easy interaction with customers. Once customers purchase a cake, they can help direct its decoration.
Traditional merchandising efforts have worked well for the stores as well. Carts dedicated to assorted rolls are popular. The rolls are baked throughout the day, so the inviting aroma hovers over the bakery department. Cupcakes, cookies and individual pie slices are available by the register for customers looking for single portion desserts.