Customization essential to innovation in bakery

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

Hakim Zemni believes educating customers is bakery's biggest challenge.
Hakim Zemni believes educating customers is bakery's biggest challenge.

Related tags Consumers Bakery industry Baking Baker

Customization is the key to giving consumers what they want to see from the bakery industry, according to one industry consultant.

Hakim Zemni, managing director of InSites Consulting, said during a presentation on his company’s Global Food Barometer results at Puratos 2015 Taste Tomorrow event in Chicago that consumers want to be able to know and control what goes into their food.

InSites got feedback from 11,000 consumers on what they might want to see from the bakery industry in the next few years. The top three ideas included a bakery where customers can pick the ingredients and add them to a bread of their choice, the ability to personalize pastries and cakes and a corner in retail with a large assortment of unique treats, such as chocolate cakes, bonbons, pastries and cookies.

“These help empower consumers into making their own decisions,”​ Zemni said, adding that the bakery industry professionals should be looking at ideas along these lines in the next few years. “Customization and control are definitely the innovation of the future … Consumers want to innovate with you, you just need to empower them.”

Using ‘the baked goods triangle’ to find what consumers want

Zemni said the “baked goods triangle,”​ or the three most important things consumers want from baked products, includes freshness, health and taste.

When it came to freshness, he said customers want to know when something was baked down to the hour. They want to walk into a shop and smell the bread and see the freshness, which includes the bread’s packaging. Zemni touted the potential for the open oven in retail, as 77% of consumers said they would appreciate this concept in stores.

Although consumers want fresh products, don't exclude e-commerce. Zemni said 39% of US citizens would be interested in buying bread from an online bakery. These online shops give a “huge opportunity”​ to bakers, Zemni said, but will certainly need to include information on when and where the bread was baked.

When looking at health, he said 74% of consumers said they would buy a bread product at a bakery if it included ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereal or grains. Zemni added bakeries have a big opportunity to sell products with whole grain, as 84% of US consumers said this is healthy and 74% said it is tasty, and fiber, of which 87% believe is healthy and 59% said it is tasty.

In baked desserts, Zemni said cocoa has “huge untapped potential,” as 80% of consumers believe it is good for their energy level.

“It’s healthy, it’s natural and it’s functional,”​ he said. “Talk about the cocoa. Tell them about the cocoa, how passionate you are about the origin of your cocoa.”

Communicate while you innovate

It isn’t just about looking ahead, Zemni told the room full of industry professionals; it’s about telling the story of your products and company, as well as the ingredients used.

This means being clear about what ingredients are on the label, as he believes products with a “clear,” or understandable, label have a much brighter future than those with a “clean” label.

The bakery industry will need to come together to fight against myths of bread being unhealthy, he said, as social media, fad diets and the online blog community have converged to damage the industry’s reputation.

“Consumers are already believing the bad news,”​ Zenni said. “Now, it’s up to you and the industry marketers to change that perspective. The industry can’t do this by itself; it should be with opinion leaders as well. It has to be a joint effort [with bloggers, celebrities and consumers].”

“I think [education is] the most important challenge for the industry in the next couple of years.”

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