Back in June, New York-based French pastry chef Dominique Ansel received a trademark for his donut-croissant hybrid. Since then, there has been a flurry of copycat products and new bakery hybrid launches, including duffins (donut-muffins), brookies (brownie-cookie) and pretzel-croissants.
However, analysts from Datamonitor Consumer said any success in hybrid bakery would be short-lived.
“In terms of the likely longevity of mass-produced cronut imitators, I would be surprised to see their popularity last beyond the next 12 months,” said Jamie Mills, associate analyst at Datamonitor Consumer.
“Once cronuts are readily available, their current ‘must-have’ appeal will reduce,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
As retail chains and quick service restaurants produce own versions, the concept becomes commoditized, she explained.
“Consumers will continually be looking for the novelty factor as well as new ways by which to indulge...Much of the cronut’s appeal is its elusive nature. However mass produced versions will make it constantly available and eventually, just another product in the bakery aisle.”
Senior analyst at Datamonitor Consumer Katie Page agreed: “The odds are stacked against this being a genuine game-changer in mass-market baked goods.”
Hybrid mania: What’s it all about?
Depsite there being little longevity for the cronut, Mills said that its current appeal, and desire for other bakery hybrids, remains strong as it fits into the mindset of today’s consumer.
“Being able to indulge in products which combine the high fat, sugary elements from traditional food products into a single ‘super product’ provides instant gratification in a society where the idea that fast foods and high sugar content are unhealthy and should be eaten in moderation,” she said.
Bakery expert at Nielsen-Perishables Group Jonna Parker described the cronut as the ‘poster child’ of the hybrid craze.
“Hybrid mania is a newer trend. We’re seeing pretzel rolls, croissant muffins, pretzel croissants – the concept is to take two things you love and mash them together,” Parker told this publication.
Consumers love this, she said, because “everything old is new again”. She likened it to the ‘little black dress’ – where fashion designers re-invent the same concept every year.
The cronut collapse? A masterclass in marketing, not NPD
However, Page said the value behind the cronut is not because it’s innovative, as it offers very little new in terms of shape, texture and taste, but rather its impact on overall business and brand-building.
“The real lesson cronuts have to offer the bakery industry lies in the effective shaping of the zeitgeist around a new product offering through social media and press coverage. It reveals the exceptional ability of Western consumers to fetishize food, and as such is a masterclass in marketing rather than new product development.”
Millls added that bakery companies could have a quick and lucrative win in copying the cronut hybrid but said the value would really lie in it being an extremely useful marketing tool.