The fresh bakery sector has boomed recently – up 5% over 52 weeks ending November 30, 2013 – making it the fastest-growing fresh sector in the US, ahead of meats and delicatessen items.
But despite this growth, bakery expert at Nielsen-Perishables Group, Jonna Parker, said the fresh bakery sector needed to start thinking differently to secure stronger, future growth.
“The biggest way you can swing folks is through the senses. Sight is extremely important – does it look amazing? That’s going to sell the product. The second of course is smell for bakery, but sight definitely comes first,” Parker told BakeryandSnacks.com.
A cake featuring chocolate-dipped strawberries, bright-colored cupcakes, or seed varieties in a bagel are all appealing to the consumer, she said. "In bakery there are so many touch points to the product, ingredients, add-ons, toppings; it’s tough to get right."
While taste is essential when consuming the product, so is visual appeal to justify premium costs, she said.
Branding, packaging and presentation can have the greatest impact in bakery, Parker said.
“If you’re going to buy a new product, consumers can’t taste it unless you have a demo stand. So unless you’re going to give your product away, you have to get thinking like a packaged goods manufacturer.”
Packaged goods manufacturers dream up a concept that fulfills a consumer need, ensuring it’s in line with consumer expectations – the taste experience, importantly comes second, she said.
Bakery is visual, it’s an art
Manufacturers cannot forget that bakery is very visual and an art, Parker said.
“If you’re not focused on how that end product looks and how it’s marketed to the consumer, it’s not going to sell…I don’t want to say don’t worry about taste, but if you don’t think about packaging and how it looks, it’s going to struggle.”
For example, if you have two identical chocolate cookies and one is called ‘chocolate brownie’ but the second ‘double-chocolate premium brownie’, the latter is going to appeal more to consumers, she explained.
The name of the product, the messaging on pack, the color of the baked good itself and packaging all need to be considered carefully, she said.
Fresh bakery manufacturers often want to avoid naming a product or developing on-pack messaging, Parker said, because they fear creating false expectations in the consumer’s mind. For this reason formulation – taste and texture – must remain a core focus.
“If you don’t have both, you’re going to fail. If you call a product ‘decadent’ or ‘chocolate overload’ and then deliver a basic product, people aren’t going to want to buy it again. On the flip side, if you see a manufacturer that considers they have a gourmet, top-of-the-range brownie and they simply call it a brownie, nobody will ever know that it blows the competition out of the water.”
It’s happening, but not enough…
While Parker said more of this kind of re-positioning needed to occur, she did note more was happening in recent years than before.
There has also been an influx of CPG-trained management into the bakery sector she said, which is acting as another driver of innovation.