“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard
The above quote nicely summarizes what bread means to many of us. “Good,” fresh-baked bread is the quintessential indulgence that satisfies both our hunger and our taste buds. And its natural connection with butter — as well as many other food items — historically made it a nutritious and necessary complement to most meals.
Bread also plays an important role in our societies and inspires those who create it, as evident by the sentiment shared by Parisian baker Mezian Ahmed in a National Public Radio article following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in France.
These days, however, bread from in-store bakeries isn’t at the top of mind of many shoppers. While most other fresh perishable departments are experiencing rising and steady growth, in-store bakery sales have had limited growth, with bread sales in particular registering relatively flat sales the last five years.
What’s contributing to this trend? Why aren’t shoppers purchasing in-store bread? And, perhaps most importantly, what can retailers do to attract shoppers and generate sales?
The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) has made boosting bakery sales a major focus. Bread is not a dying food category; on the contrary, we’re seeing continued growth and interest throughout the country and the world in small, owner-operated bread stores and bakeries. We understand the important role in-store bakeries have on a store’s overall success, and implementing a program to deliver fresh-bread options to shoppers can help retailers increase sales, attract and retain customers, and garner a competitive edge.
So, where does one start in elevating fresh bread to its rightful place in the store?
An important first step is understanding bread’s role in relation to the total store, current consumer eating trends, and how to properly market to and engage shoppers, especially when they’re physically shopping a store. Here are a few areas to consider:
As James Beard said, butter goes with bread. And so do dozens of other food categories that retailers can leverage to boost in-store bread sales. A new IDDBA research report developed in conjunction with Nielsen Perishable Group examines other products’ sales in relationship to in-store bread purchases and what retailers need to do to sell more. Revealing New Ways to Win, Bakery Bread shows that shoppers who purchase bread from the in-store bakery are most likely to make purchases in other fresh departments — such as deli and produce — rather than center store categories. Overall, bakery bread has a strong positive correlation with 56 out of 221 product categories, representing 20% of total store dollars and spanning eight out of 17 departments.
Sights, sounds, and smells
Fresh-baked bread is more than just the taste. It’s also the aroma permeating through the in-store bakery; the sight of a fresh product being taken from an oven or another shopper sampling a piece; and an announcement or signal heard store-wide that another batch of freshly-baked bread is now available.
As retailers, it’s also up to us to maintain “fresh” in our in-store bakery departments. We’re attracting and engaging shoppers on the notion of freshness in the products we sell, and it’s important to not sell them anything that isn’t fresh.
Regardless of infrastructure or equipment, retailers large and small can implement an in-store bread program for baking fresh bread and creating a sensory experience for shoppers. This idea will be a major theme in IDDBA’s Show & Sell Center at its June Dairy-Deli-Bake Seminar & Expo in Houston, where attendees will view ideas and concepts for boosting fresh bread sales.
Health and wellness
The mindset of some consumers is that bread is not a healthy food. This is especially true among the growing number of shoppers seeking better-for-you eating options. Focusing on alternative ingredients — including ancient and sprouted grains — as well as free-from options like gluten-free and “superfood” ingredients like chia and hemp, can help you reach these and other shopper segments. Additionally, many of today’s consumers are looking for more natural food items with a minimal number of ingredients. Bread certainly falls into this category, and you can use this characteristic in marketing messages.
Health and wellness seem to capture most of the eating-trends headlines, but consumers are also seeking indulgence when shopping your store. Fresh-baked bread falls into this category as well, both as an individual indulgence or one to be shared with others. Another soon-to-be released report from IDDBA and Nielsen Perishables Group, Entertaining Across the Store, examines eating occasions and opportunities where bread can play a prominent role, such as holidays, special events, and parties. Bread also presents opportunities to attract consumer interest through new and exciting flavors, such as wine artisan bread made from grape skin and seed flour.
In-store bakeries have the potential to be true centerpieces of retail stores, where fresh and innovative products draw shoppers the instant they walk through the door. And fresh bread is a key component to make that happen.
What are your stores doing to boost in-store bakery sales? What types of programs have you implemented to deliver fresh-baked bread options to shoppers?