1. Get ‘em while they’re young


Millennials account for about one-quarter of the U.S. population, and the buying power of this influential group shows no signs of stopping. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are naturally curious and global-minded when it comes to their eating habits and sweet goods are no exception. These groups are motivated by the way something looks and how it tastes. A beautiful sweet good from the bakery is a great way to grab attention and single-serve and mini versions connect well with shoppers that don’t typically shop the ISB. What’s even better is when a photo of the sweet good is posted on Instagram.

Industry Outlook

“Younger consumers, such as Millennials and Gen X, tend to be more adventurous than older generations when it comes to their eating habits,” says Kathy Sargent, strategic innovation director, Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas. “For them it is all about the experience. As a result, we’ve seen a large push for ethnic-inspired products in the sweet goods segment with more vibrant and exciting flavors popping up everywhere.”

Photo Ready

Set the stage of your bakery in anticipation. An Instagram snap from these demographics requires an appealing backdrop. Unique items like vintage bakeware and uncluttered wooden tables and marble slabs can become an Instagrammable spot in your bakery. With regular use, those backdrops and items can develop into the bakery’s calling card. This is a good way to attract Superconsumers, heavy users who are passionate about products and are willing to seek them out.

2. Indulgence and premiumization

Go Big

It goes without saying; the bakery is the logical place for indulgence. Knowing this, don’t hesitate to take indulgence over the top with innovative concoctions and creative takes on traditional bakery products. For consumers of all demographics, bakery treats are reasonably priced yet add an element of something special with the add-ons of gourmet chocolate, premium toppings and upscale packaging. Sweet goods become a permissible, premium treat in a small indulgent package.

Industry Outlook

Some of the top trending flavors for indulgent fillings include dulce de leche, toffee and coconut, according to GlobalData Intelligence. FONA’s Indulgence 2018 Trend Insight Report cites chocolate peanut butter, cinnamon roll and turtle cheesecake as top-rated consumer indulgent flavors.

Tell a Story

Part of the fun of indulgence is being able to share the story behind the product. It’s the little details that enrich the experience. Look for ways to tell a story behind the ingredients and the production of the products by spotlighting community-based suppliers and local producers as well as the people making the products in-house.

3. Grocerant format

Take a Pause

Grocerants offer the best of both worlds, grocery and restaurant in one location. Within the store, the bakery is the most powerful source of sensory appeal. After a hectic day, what’s more welcoming and soothing to the senses than fresh-baked products?

Draw the customer in and give them a spot to rest and recharge. The addition of simple café chairs and small tables can entice tired shoppers to enjoy their treat in-house and possibly purchase another for the road. Don’t forget to add plug-ins near the seating to allow customers to re-charge their phone or computer.

Industry Outlook

“The ISB can really be a driver of sales and a major factor of foot traffic,” says Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator, IDDBA, Madison, Wisconsin. “Use sweet goods through cross merchandising, entertaining, samplings, in-store kits and pairings. Invite people to taste and get an idea of the quality.”

Crowd Appeal

Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to decide what they’re eating one-to-two hours before a meal. Be ready for these young shoppers with an experience and a reason to indulge. Samplings, pairings with alcohol and after-work happy hour events give shoppers an experience and the opportunity for a delicious treat.

4. Nostalgia redux

Using the Senses

Nostalgia is a powerful force, with the ability to take us back in time. When consumers finally take a break and indulge, they want the experience to count. Many bakers are capitalizing on the growing demands of innovation and nostalgia by incorporating unique twists on old-school favorites. Even something as simple as toppings has gone nostalgic with addition of s’mores, maple and bacon and breakfast cereals, evoking memories of summer campouts and Saturday mornings. Familiarity with a product or flavor is a strong attribute, but with the addition of an innovative flair it can push a consumer towards purchase, according to David Skinner, marketing manager, J. Skinner Baking, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

Industry Outlook

Looking at the category more broadly, many of the key trends driving the sweet goods segment encourage creativity, from innovative mashups to unique flavor combos. (Cargill, Minnetonka, Minnesota)

Stocking the Case

Make room for cookies and cookie sandwiches with frosting, brownies, muffins, cupcakes and donuts.

5. Donut Expansion


Today’s consumers crave experiences, and gourmet donuts are delivering as the new growth driver in the category. According to Jackson, Michigan-based Dawn Foods, 65% of consumers are likely to try gourmet donuts but only 9% of operators plan to add them. To generate maximum impact, focus on creativity and decadent fillings like passionfruit and lemon curd; indulgent toppings like chocolate chunk cookie dough or caramel corn, or try a riff on red velvet cake and more. And don’t forget savory pairings like bacon and eggs, Prosciutto and cheese or cream cheese and lox.