The instore bakery is moving in the right direction for the most part. Sales are up slightly from a year ago and other trends remain positive, but overall growth in the bakery has been tepid since 2015, according to Chicago-based market researcher IRI.
Retailers can focus on a number of different trends to grow sales and consumer engagement, but they can all be summed up with a common goal — making the instore bakery an everyday destination for shoppers. To push profits and success into another realm, shoppers must see your bakery as a destination worthy of more than just the weekly Sunday afternoon stock-up shopping trip.
With a little help from suppliers, this can be a feasible goal. Here are a few key steps.
When St. Pierre Bakery first entered the US market in 2012, it has worked to make sure consumers — and retailers — know just how versatile its products are.
“We’ve made it our mission to educate consumers and retailers on brioche — its history, what makes it different and all the different ways to enjoy it,” says Paul Bakery, founder of St. Pierre Groupe, which is based in London. “Our brioche loaf is the perfect bread to elevate your favorite sandwich, French Toast recipe and more.”
Product versatility can open a plethora of options in which to use the product you have available in your bakery. More options mean more purchasing possibilities for shoppers, which can help drive more trips.
“When we develop a new product, we always try to think about the versatility of it and the various ways consumers can enjoy it throughout the day,” Bakery says. “We use our website and social media to share recipes and photos that inspire different ways to use our products.”
St. Pierre’s brioche waffles, for example, are perfectly tasty simply warmed up and eaten as a snack, but they can be so much more. They can be enjoyed traditionally with syrup for breakfast or in place of bread for a hearty breakfast sandwich.
Bakery also points out they can be chopped up and used in recipes — like a breakfast strata or bread pudding — and can also elevate any dessert recipe, such as scooping ice cream between the warm brioche waffle for an ice cream sandwich.
And this line of thinking is encouraged for all of the company’s products, from simple brioche bread and rolls to croissants and crepes.
Make it feel like a destination
The bakery has to feel like more than just a place to stop and grab a loaf of bread of a package of cookies. In order to bring shoppers back on a near-daily basis, it has to feel like a destination.
Storytelling can be a vital part of this equation. Take Norwalk, Connecticut-based Stew Leonard’s for example. The small northeastern chain emphasizes that destination feeling, and the story behind it, throughout its stores, and the bakery — named Bethy’s Bakery — is certainly no exception.
The store highlights that the bakery is named after Beth Leonard — the daughter of store founder of Stew Leonard Sr. — who established the department upon returning form working at a bakery in France.
Now, the store’s team of bakers starts at 3 a.m. every day, firing up the ovens to bring its customers quality breads, cookies, cakes, pies and its famous apple cider donuts. This daily ritual is conveyed to the shoppers in hopes that they will view it as a part of their daily routine.
That experience can be a unique way to connect with consumers that restaurants and some retail bakeries don’t always have. The story of the bakery, the interaction with store employees, the merchandising items, it can all join to create a destination experience.
“The instore experience is a great way to attract shoppers — whether that means sampling and promotions or new merchandising and displays,” Baker says. “Leveraging instore flyers, recipe cards and social media can be another great way to drive shoppers to the bakery section.”
St. Pierre recently developed product displays involving the Eiffel Tower as a way to drive awareness to its products and create an instore destination for European-inspired baked goods. The displays are paired with the company’s hard-to-miss orange packaging, which can help attract shoppers to the bakery.
Cook up new ideas
Not all shoppers will look at the bakery by itself as an everyday destination. But when you’re able to work with neighboring departments to use bakery products in new and exciting ways, you only increase the chances that consumers will feel the need to rush back to the store.
St. Pierre’s experience with brioche is an example.
“Restaurants have really helped bring brioche to the mainstream in the US market,” Bakery says. “With brioche appearing on menus across the country, consumers have come to associate it as a premium bread for burgers and sandwiches.”
The company now works with retailers, using the foodservice industry as a case study to help inspire them to use brioche in their deli and bakery offerings to boost profits.
St. Pierre has also recreated a traditional French Patisserie at trade shows to help bring the brand to life and demonstrate the versatility of its products.
“We have a full glass case displaying an array of decadent treats prepared with our products,” Bakery says. “We also offer recipe postcards and brand materials to for further inspiration. The trade shows have been a great way for us to connect directly with our retail partners and showcase new and exciting ways to use our products to attract customers and drive sales.”