Bakery items can be geared toward morning or all dayparts, feature new flavors or focus on the classics. The bottom line: make sure products are fresh, local and promoted.
Rutter’s Food Service Category Supervisor Chad White said the chain has been focusing on its bakery menu for the past few months.
“We’ve been looking to expand our case to bring all dayparts — not just the breakfast option. …” he said.
After a bit of searching, York, Pa.-based Rutter’s added cake pops to the menu. They’ve been a “huge success,” White said, bringing a whole new energy to the category.
“It took a while to find the right product because we want fresh products out there,” he said. “We want products that look good, taste good and obviously are fresh as well.”
Among its variety of baked goods, Rutter’s offers whoopie pies, better known as “gobs” in parts of Pennsylvania. Plus, another new product — edible cookie dough in two flavors, Chocolate Chip and Party Time — kept in the cold case to drive more sales.
Rutter’s also prioritizes local ingredients. In fact, the company created a new role in 2018. Fresh and Local Category Supervisor Cheri Booth works with White in an effort to bring in additional local products.
“I think it’s a huge benefit for the customers to see that their products come in from somewhere local,” said White. “They feel like they’re investing in the community when they buy that product as well.”
New and Nostalgic
International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) Industry Relations Coordinator Eric Richard said the changing demographic has an effect on the bakery market. The traditional consumer of baked goods had been families.
“Because the number of single-family households or two-person households has risen dramatically over the past few years, you’re going to have individuals shopping just for themselves, and they might be less inclined to purchase, say, a full-sized cake or a full-sized loaf of bread,” he said. “This is where c-stores can really shine.”
In bakery and beyond, 7-Eleven tries to appeal to the young consumer. The company recently added several new items to the menu, including Bourbon Maple Praline Yeast Donut, Cinnamon Fire Bomb Cake Donut and a Piña Colada Cupcake.
7-Eleven Product Director of Fresh Foods Vareesha Shariff said these flavors are intended for Gen Z customers, who “often look to specialty bakeries and doughnut shops to indulge in their decadent needs, but are also time-starved and looking for convenient options.”
Although younger generations want new flavors and combinations, Richard said they also want to try some of the classics that they’ve heard of from their parents and their grandparents.
Rutter’s knows a thing or two about the classics; whoopie pies date back to the 1920s. They’ve also seen success with items like apple pie, a seasonal offering.
“Something as simple as apple pie — not only does that resonate with those individuals who may have eaten that on a regular basis while growing up,” said Richard, “I think there’s also this interest from younger generations, too.”
Promotion is Key
However, offering great products is not enough to set your business apart.
Retailers must go a step further and fully promote those items, said Richard, noting that traditional marketing such as in-store messaging can still be effective, but social media should be used to its full capacity, too.
“Utilize your social media channels, and create buzz around products and buzz around your baked goods,” said Richard. “You can have the best baked goods department that any c-store has in your region, but if people don’t know about it, and if consumers are not generating buzz about it, you probably aren’t going to be as successful as those stores who do utilize those channels.”