Consumers' habits are changing, and in-store bakeries may need to adjust their practices. Here is some insight on what to expect and how to merchandise to boost sales.
Convenience is the number one reason customers shop self-service bakeries, according to Dr. Rosita Thomas, Thomas Opinion Research, who presented her findings from a 2,000-person trend study during a session at this year's Dairy-Deli-Bake. The ultimate in convenience is to package bread spreads in piping bags and merchandise them above a variety of French and Italian loaves and rolls. Spread varieties can include garlic, asiago cheese, jalapeño cheddar and cinnamon. More consumers are eating at home, but that doesn't translate to cooking at home, according to Carol Christison, executive director of IDDBA. Retailers need to think about ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat foods, she added.
Mini desserts and smaller portions are hot. Macaron, and dessert shots offer the perfect small indulgence for consumers who are worried about their health. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation has pledged to reduce American caloric consumption by 1 trillion by 2012 and 1.5 trillion by 2015, Christison said during her trends presentation at Dairy-Deli-Bake. Reduced portion sizes are a key element of that goal. Consumers also are facing three challenges, she added. They need to please a lot of people at once, food needs to be convenient and expenses need to be kept in check. Macarons and dessert shots are perfect in that they can be mixed and matched and only the number needed can be purchased.
When in doubt, add chocolate. It weathered the recession better than most indulgences and proved that consumers still want a treat even when tightening their belts, according to the IDDBA. Adding drizzles and accents in dark, milk and white chocolate is an easy way to differentiate your bakery items. Dark chocolate is a hot trend, and consumers can't seem to get enough of it. Incorporate it into your desserts and advertise it to customers, especially those without an interest in conventionally sweet bakery offerings. Adding a small chocolate fountain is one way to draw customers. Offer samples of pound cake or other products for customers to dip in the fountain. It's an ideal way to sample product.
Catch customers' eyes with herb-topped loaves and a variety of sizes, says the IDDBA. While 38 percent of bakery customers say they are eating less bread than a year ago, consumption of complex carbohydrates has increased since 2004, according to Thomas. More than two-thirds say their consumption of whole grain breads has increased, and 28 percent say they eat more value-added (iron-fortified, high fiber, etc.) breads. Create bread displays with a little something for everyone, and energize the display with creative cuts, toppings, sizes and flavors. Slice bread to show the crumb or grains it contains, create bundles and offer half or quarter loaves for the increasing number of empty-nesters.
Anything cupcakes can do, muffins can do better. Or, you can treat them the same anyway. The decorated muffin is a big trend in Europe, Christison said, and is something she can see taking off in the United States. The goal is to find the perfect balance of muffin and topping, without getting too sweet. Some suggested toppings include mascarpone, dried fruit, crème fraîche, dark chocolate, sweetened cream cheese, sugared nuts and crystallized sugar. To decorate muffins, add a dollop of icing but allow the edges of the muffin to remain visible, add upscale toppings, such as fresh strawberries or chocolate-covered espresso beans, and use fancy decorated papers.
More than half of shoppers (52 percent) surveyed in the Thomas Opinion Research study say they are eating less baked sweetgoods than a year ago, Thomas said. In 2004, the number was 59 percent. To keep drawing in customers, retailers must appeal to their eyes. Create eye appeal by showing off the layers, fillings and crumb of your products, which invites customers to step into the taste experience, IDDBA said. They eat with their eyes first, so show them that what they see is what they get. For the first time, freshness was overwhelmingly the number one volunteered reason for shopping at full-service bakeries, Thomas added. And nothing says freshness like being able to see inside a dessert.