This article is part of our Bakery Business Startup Guide—a curated list of articles to help you plan, start, and grow your bakery business!
In recent years, the bakery industry has been changing. While commercial bakeries still account for the majority of bakery sales, the industry as a whole is moving away from mass-produced products and increasingly toward niche offerings like healthy baked goods and high-quality, artisanal products.
For small bakery businesses, this is promising. The shift from mass-produced baked goods to handcrafted specialty products provides plenty of areas where bakers can grow strategically, taking advantage of industry trends and consumer needs.
Are you looking for ways to bring in more money and attract more clients to your bakery business? Read on.
1. Offer nutrition information for your products
As patrons are becoming more and more health conscious, it’s a smart move to consider providing nutrition information for your breads, pastries, and sweets.
According to the American Bakers Association, 61 percent of U.S. adults use nutrition labels to help manage their weight, and 38 percent say that labeling products would help them do this more effectively. Additionally, many consumers underestimate the calorie and fat content in foods and attest that they would like to see more nutrition labeling at places where they eat away from the home.
How does including nutrition information impact sales? It’s hard to say, as there hasn’t been enough large-scale initiative to include this information; at this point in time in most locations, including nutritional information is optional. However, bakery chain Panera has seen huge success in recent years after voluntarily including nutritional info for all of their products.
Scott Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Concept Officer for Panera Bread says that since including nutritional information, the fast-casual bakery chain has “enjoyed record revenues and profits every year and seen our stock price double, making it one of the best-performing stocks in the industry.”
If you are still on the fence, consider having nutrition information available on request, or for viewing through your business’s app, rather than displayed on your menu in full view.
2. Have healthier options available
In a similar vein, consumers are becoming more and more interested in the availability of healthier options. In adults ages 25 to 34, 54 percent of those surveyed by the American Bakers Association said they reach for healthier options when baking at home, which leads industry experts to believe that consumers may be interested in healthier options from their local bakery as well.
Corner Bakery Cafe has jumped on this trend, offering an extensive list of low-calorie options. “We’re committed to offering guests a healthier selection of prepared-to-order breakfast, lunch, and dinner options year-round, so they can enjoy great-tasting yet sensible meals without missing out on taste and variety,” says Ric Scicchitano, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Corner Bakery Cafe.
This isn’t just a trend without any numbers to back it up: Plenty of chain restaurants are seeing increases in sales due to their inclusion of healthier options, and one study found a 28 percent increase in sales when foods were labeled as having healthy ingredients or properties, such as being low-sodium.
Be aware, however, that “healthy options” doesn’t just have to mean low-calorie. Consider offering a wide variety of options, such as low-carb, high protein, all natural ingredients, and so on, depending on your target market’s preferences. This would be a great time to do some additional market research with your customers!
3. Feature different portion sizes
As we found in the restaurant industry, offering smaller or non-standard portion sizes is a great way to bring in new customers and make more money from your existing customers.
The snacking trend is growing, and bakeries are set to play a huge role (or should I say roll—get it?). 28 percent of cake and pie buyers say that they would be interested in individual portion sizes, and 20 percent say mini or bite-sized versions would encourage them to buy more. This provides consumers with built-in portion control, which is a growing trend.
Baking Business found that bite-sized desserts are a “must-have” for bakeries. Carly Fields of Tart Bakery attributes the rising popularity to more than just portion control: “I believe most people do not want to commit to one dessert, and the bite-sized desserts allow them to have fun and try more things,” she says.
4. Offer high-protein baked goods
Bakeries offering high-protein baked goods—or even specializing exclusively in them—have become extremely popular. 26 percent of Americans say they have increased their protein intake in recent years, and 78 percent of Americans expressed interest in foods that kept them feeling fuller longer.
Consider Lenny and Larry’s most popular product, “The Complete Cookie,” a protein-packed cookie that comes in a variety of flavors. The brand, established in 1993, has experienced a boom in popularity in recent years.
However, it’s not only stalwart brands that are benefitting from the increased popularity of protein-packed goodies—brands like Doughbar Doughnuts have popped up in response to the growing trend.
If your bakery doesn’t specialize in high-protein goods, don’t worry—this trend isn’t just for new bakeries hoping to specialize. You can easily offer a few higher protein options (like a rotating selection of a few high-protein muffins, cookies, and so on) to complement your regular offerings.
5. Focus on locally-sourced ingredients
Local ingredients are very important to consumers; in fact, local products are quickly becoming more important than organic or “all natural” products.
The American Bakers Association found that 62 percent of consumers try to purchase local products whenever possible, and 41 percent said that a restaurant offering locally sourced ingredients influenced their choice in which businesses to frequent.
For successful examples of bakeries for whom locally-sourced ingredients are their bread and butter (literally), look no further than Pacific Northwest chain Grand Central Bakery. Their purchasing philosophy emphasizes local ingredients whenever possible, and their customers appreciate that they make an effort to buy directly from local farmers.
6. Don’t do away with indulgent desserts
Displaying nutrition information, offering healthy options and high-protein desserts—this must mean consumers are moving away from more indulgent offerings, right?
Actually, wrong: 65 percent of consumers attest that they care more about how a dessert tastes than its nutritional content.
Not only that, the same study found that 48 percent of consumers view cakes and pies as an indulgence and are gravitating toward high-quality ingredients and well-made, delicious desserts when they want something that fits the bill. “We’ve been mindful that while people are concerned about nutrition and health, when they want to treat themselves, they don’t want to compromise on taste and texture,” says Michael Mendes, CEO of Just Desserts.
What does this mean for your business? Don’t think the emphasis on healthy eating means consumers are disinterested in rich desserts. That being said, focus on making these indulgences “worth it” by making sure your ingredients are high quality and your desserts taste fantastic.
7. Let nostalgia inform your offerings
From Pop-Tarts to Oreos, bakeries are remaking everyone’s favorite childhood desserts and bakery items. They are huge crowd-pleasers, and bring in plenty of business: For example, Kansas City’s Heirloom Bakery & Hearth makes a toaster pastry so popular that they sell out by 9am.
Similarly, Berkeley-based Stateside Bakery was born from this very inspiration, offering, in their words, “nostalgia for the classically American desserts of our childhood—desserts that could only be found stateside, like Twinkies and Oreos.”
Kitschy and cute, offering reinterpretations of childhood classics is a great way to give old standbys your own personal spin, and attract both new and returning customers.
8. Offer allergen-free products
While sales of gluten-free products may have slowed, research shows that allergen-free baked goods are still in demand.
In general, sales of allergen-free products have risen steadily and continue to rise. Moreover, food allergies are on the rise as well, which means more and more people will be searching for allergen-free products.
While larger cities like NYC are often packed with allergen-free options, your own community may not have as many available, which leaves room for your bakery to grow.
Start by assessing what is missing in your local community. Is there a lack of offerings for those who are allergic to nuts, eggs, dairy, and so on? Check out your competition and see what holes you can fill, or speak with your customers and find out what allergies they or their family members are dealing with.
9. Pay attention to packaging
Artisanal packaging is trending, and it’s a great way to make your products stand out from the crowd. Not only will unique packaging make your products memorable, but packaging has been found to be one of the most important aspects when it comes to a customer’s decision to buy a product.
Having beautiful packaging adds an authentic human touch that consumers love, as it sets handmade, local products apart from mass-produced generic offerings.
Artisanal packaging is an extension of your bakery’s branding and deserves plenty of attention. Presenting your products in gorgeous packaging reinforces the idea that when it comes to bakery products, we eat with our eyes first.
Ready to start your bakery business?
Maybe you dream of opening your own bakery, but you’re still working out the details of how to make that dream a reality.
If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. Check out our article The Baker’s Guide to Opening a Successful Bakery, as well as our bakery sample business plans, which will give you an idea of how to get started.