It’s an age-old business strategy: Get as much of the pie as possible. But at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA)’s Dairy-Deli-Bake show, consumer strategist Eddie Yoon advised attendees that there’s a new way to grow business. 
Mr. Yoon, principal, The Cambridge Group, recently published the book “Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy, and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth,” in which he identified “superconsumers,” people who reach a level of fanaticism in their product use and purchasing power.
By tapping into superconsumers, Mr. Yoon said that producers in the bakery category can make the pie bigger, rather than trying to snag a bigger piece of it.
He noted that 10% of consumers in a certain category drive anywhere from 30% to 70% of sales. About 99% of the insights in a given category, he said, can be traced back to that 10%.
Mr. Yoon is currently working on a broader research project with IDDBA to identify how superconsumer insight is helping certain supermarket categories, including bakery.
“They’re asking these consumers how you can sharpen what you’re doing today,” he said. “It’s not that your current strategies are necessarily wrong, but superconsumers can sharpen your focus.”
To grow the pie, Mr. Yoon advised bakery producers need to identify who their competitors might be. He said it’s not about stealing business from one another, but rather, stealing it from food service. For the first time in decades, he explained, more dollars are pouring into restaurants than into supermarkets.
“Your competitors are not in the booth next to you at this tradeshow,” Mr. Yoon said. “The more we can ban together to solve for that, the better it will be for the industry.”
His case in point was pizza. Frozen pizza companies should not worry about private label or other frozen pizza producers. They should be concerned with what Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and other local independent pizza restaurants are doing and how they’re innovating.
“The way you can win in the long run is to not just think about competitors, but also reimagine what food service is going to be in the future,” he said.
It’s about anticipating what’s coming in other channels and innovating first.
“If you can do that, you’ll stay ahead of the game,” Mr. Yoon said, noting that by getting out in front of the food service trends, bakery producers could greatly extend their marketing strategy shelf life.
Superconsumers are the ones who can help producers read the tea leaves.
“If you ask an average consumer a question, you’ll get a below-average answer,” he noted. “They just don’t care that much. But ask a superconsumer, ‘How can I make my category better?’ and they will tell you things you might never thought of.”
Superconsumers are valuable in the money they spend, of course. And they’re valuable with the insight they bring to their category. But there’s more.
“These users are the pied pipers of their category,” he said. “They’ll drag other consumers along with them.”
Mr. Yoon indicated that there’s a certain faction of consumers that want to become superconsumers, and while they might not currently have the passion and the product knowledge, they’re listening to the superconsumers and taking their advice. It’s grassroots at its finest.
Gaining insight from superconsumers, then speaking to those people who could become one, Mr. Yoon said, is a way to close that gap and grow the pie. He estimated there is about $11 billion that could be taken back from food service for the dairy, deli and bakery categories through these types of strategies.
IDDBA’s research has identified 28 million superconsumers who cover nine platforms for growth that identify how they are thinking about ways of using supermarket dairy, deli and bakery categories.
“Superconsumers have figured out how to use your brands for a lot of different uses that most of us would not have thought of before,” Mr. Yoon said.