With people gathering throughout March (and early April) to watch and celebrate the NCAA mens's and women's basketball tournaments, bakeries have the opportunity to grow their sales. 

“Most customers might not connect college basketball to profits, but highlighting an event that communities celebrate every year makes sense and uncovers hidden opportunities,” says Wendy Westmoreland, Dawn Foods marketing manager, West.

Dawn Foods offers a March Profitability Playbook with ideas for bakeries to grow sales and focus their marketing for the month of March. Executive Chef Melissa Trimmer of Dawn Foods is an expert on what's trending in the baking world and recently she shared some tips on how bakeries can create fun and festive treats to maximize profits this month.

What are some ways that bakers can make their baked goods stand out and maximize profits for the NCAA Tournament?

Melissa Trimmer: The NCAA Tournament is a great time for bakeries to get creative and have some fun with the desserts they make, such as creating cupcakes and cookies shaped like a basketball or highlighting the mascots and colors of the local favorite team in desserts. As we start to see an easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the United States, many people will host gatherings this year to watch the games. Cookies, cupcakes and donuts are all popular choices for these celebrations and can be served in a fun way, like hamburger cupcakes or big game chocolate donuts. Bakeries should be sure to include a variety of these sweet treats for a chance to grow their sales.

What kind of finger foods would be ideal to offer during March Madness?

I recommend easy-to-make finger foods, like cake truffles and chocolate-dipped truffle brownies. These are perfect for gameday parties because they allow guests to easily grab and enjoy them while mingling with guests and snacking on other goodies.

Are there any spring trends that can be incorporated into these baked goods?

Spring is always a great time to incorporate pops of neon color and new flavors into sweet treats. Chocolate mint cupcakes are a neat option for bakeries to highlight as they give a unique twist on a traditional favorite. Bakeries can take these up a notch and decorate them with fresh florals, pastel colors and other spring classics.

Because spring is a time of new beginnings, consumers will be into more ‘better for you’ items and show interest in vegan and plant-based products, making this is a great time for bakeries to incorporate these items into their display case.