Innovative flavors, smaller portions and cross-merchandising help capture attention in the bakery by providing foods that nourish, entertain and make meal planning easier and more convenient.

In January, consumers and bakery employees alike may breathe a sigh of relief knowing the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas seasons are now behind them. Post-holidays, many consumers shift into recovery mode after weeks of holiday parties and entertaining, but bakeries know better. The demand for fresh-baked and convenient sweet and savory goods in the New Year is only beginning.

Reading Minds

After surviving another season filled with excess, many consumers resolve to welcome the New Year with expectations of a fresh start. This often includes resolutions and intentions to employ ways to make life easier and more organized with the added goal of saving money in the process.

Armed with an idealized viewpoint of the potential of what the next 12 months could bring, consumers look to find who and what can help them fulfill these intentions to the fullest.

One unexpected place for consumers to realize these expectations is in the instore bakery. Thought to merely be a place for sweet, tempting delights, bakeries can also be a destination where consumers can find inspiration for meals and entertaining throughout the year. Knowing that grocery shopping is a necessary expenditure, why shouldn’t the instore bakery also become a place where consumers can find staples as well as the occasional indulgence to make food shopping more fun and appealing?

Elevating the Perimeter

Freshly baked sweet goods and breads from the instore bakery offer consumers an upgrade to everyday staples with the added appeal of attracting more discerning customers to the department, according to Discernment can also include welcoming consumers who resolve to continue to build variety into their diet beyond the New Year.

Keeping in mind current trends and the ongoing desire to know the specifics around ingredients, bakeries can be better prepared to leverage the idea of freshly made indulgence, according to Chicago-based Mintel. This includes accommodating consumers who demand products centered around health, wellness and responsibility, the new basis of brand loyalty, according to New York-based Deloitte.

Such a focus places a growing emphasis on customization, personal health, the environment and social impact with a greater understanding of purchase and consumption occasions. The consultancy recommends food manufacturers align their offerings with consumer interests and tailor them to their values, including innovation through experiences, unique channels, delivery and customization. Going a step further, Fast Company’s November 2019 article on 2020 food trends predicted an ongoing demand for mobile ordering, delivery, kiosks and call-in and pick-up ordering options.

Earlier in 2019, Forbes shared its own predictions on the future of food in 2020. Insights included growing consumer preference for making smaller stock-ups on food. This could include quick trips to the store or receiving more frequent, yet smaller, grocery deliveries. The inclination toward more frequent shopping occasions is in part a result of last-minute decision making regarding what to eat. Acosta, a sales, marketing and service company based in Jacksonville, Florida, reported 85% of consumers do not know what they are having for dinner until just a couple of hours before the meal.


Varied offerings, paired with convenience, helps capture new audiences, which include the more than 80 million Americans who enjoy cooking and cook for pleasure, as shared in Mintel’s Cooking in America – U.S. October 2019 report. Helping consumers manage their time through thoughtful planning and accommodation can help perimeter departments like the bakery become a natural element of shopping and cooking routines.

Anticipating Needs

For consumers navigating busy schedules, this means less time for meal planning and prep. During the days when there’s only time for grab and go, bakeries can become the star with easy pairings from the bakery placed throughout the perimeter of the store. Even those looking to avoid the temptations believed to be lurking in the bakery department can find reasons to purchase fresh bakery items when cross-merchandised with other fresh perimeter departments.

Strategic placement of bakery items with the meat and poultry department is one way for the bakery to catch impulse shoppers. Midan Marketing, which has offices in Chicago and Mooresville, North Carolina, found close to one-third of consumers were influenced to buy a type of meat or poultry product when they saw the item on sale or as part of an instore display, as discovered in its 2019 Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.0 report.

Adding a quick-grab bakery item within perimeter departments can help consumers simplify meal planning and introduce them to more reasons to check out the bakery. Fresh items from the bakery are a natural pairing with deli items and in the dairy aisle, sweet goods can find a spot near on-trend dairy products such as oat milk, fruit milks and vegetable milks.

IDDBA, Madison, Wisconsin, recommends making the instore bakery a one-stop destination for meal options that are easy to pick up and take home, like the offerings from a quick-serve or fast-casual restaurant. Such placements can also be a smart way to attract millennial consumers, a generation who leaves meal planning decisions until a just a few hours prior to the meal and doesn’t usually shop the bakery. “Millennials shop a variety of channels and they are always looking for products that offer the attributes of real food that’s fresh and local,” says Eric Richard, education coordinator, IDDBA.

Bakeries must also be prepared for those looking for inspiration for an upcoming meal or snack or for those who want to conduct their own research before buying. This might include offering items displayed with ideas for an upcoming birthday party, Big Game bash, fundraising opportunities or advertising the ability of the bakery to cater office functions and meetings. These are all initiatives familiar to Lochel’s Bakery, located in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. In its third generation, the retail and wholesale bakery know its items remain in demand year-round.

“We know that people won’t give up eating sweet treats and we focus on that,” says Kathleen Lochel, co-owner, Lochel’s Bakery. “Because of this, we put out coupons for cakes, cookies and pies and do instore specials and taste testing.”

The bakery often uses one purchase as a springboard for a future purchase. During the holidays, the bakery offers coupons of $5 off a purchase of $25 or more. Email marketing through Constant Contact email marketing software allows the bakery to see which coupons create a return. Lochel’s Bakery also offers Sampling Saturday events and works with local bloggers to help create buzz around its products, which are then shared on the bakery’s Facebook and Instagram social channels.

Such social media efforts might include highlighting seasonal favorites like pies, cookies, cakes or champagne cupcakes for New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. The company also enjoys tempting customers year-round with beautiful products that result in impulse purchases. “Cupcakes are a great impulse purchase,” Lochel says. “People gravitate toward the presentation and these are the products they want to bring to someone’s home.”

Home Dining and Entertaining


More stringent post-holiday budgets coupled with more people choosing to dine at home becomes another opportunity for bakeries to help consumers stick to their cost-saving resolutions deliciously. Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas, offers solutions for industrial frozen dough applications to help customers create longer-lasting, better-tasting and on-trend baked goods with less hassle and waste.

The sensory aspects created by fresh baked products offers instore shoppers a cozy, made-from-scratch feeling that’s an easy draw for consumers looking for a quick meal idea or snack on the way home. Planned bakery purchases more likely skew toward older boomers, the silent generation and some Gen X consumers, according to Richard.

Attracting new audiences such as the millennials is dependent on offering opportunities for impulse purchases through happy hours and experiential tastings. Bakeries can be prepared to meet the needs of this demographic with offerings of smaller, 1-2 serving portions that complement smaller households and on-the-go meals and snacks. “Because snacking is replacing mealtime occasions due to today’s busy lifestyles, there’s an opportunity for instore bakeries to incorporate baked goods into lunch and dinner occasions with mini, on-the-go, indulgent options,” says JoAnn Rupp, global market insights manager, Corbion.

While tried-and-true bakery items will never go out of style, it’s important bakeries remain cognizant of how the instore bakery can accommodate the needs of its regular customers as well as capture the attention of new consumers with new and old favorites, convenient-sized portions and cross-merchandising throughout the store.