Make sure it’s not all trick and no treat this Halloween with innovative new product and marketing ideas to help boost seasonal sales
Bring the skeletons out of your closet and prepare for the witching hour because Halloween is back, and it’s a great way to scare up extra trade.
A whopping 51.4% of UK households bought Halloween-inspired food last year, according to Verdict Retail, while more than a third bought Halloween clothing or costumes (survey of 2,000 consumers in November 2016).
But before you reach for the orange and black icing and dress up in an old sheet, consider the power of social media, says Margaretha Schneeweis, category market leader for pastry mixes at CSM Bakery Solutions: “We know more bakers are benefiting from the power of social media, and the imagery from Halloween products works really well on Facebook and Instagram, so making sure your seasonal bakes look tip top for those all-important snaps should be a top priority,” she says.
And, adds Schneeweis, preparation is key: “Bakers can start the run-up to Halloween at least two weeks beforehand with promotional posters and details of the ranges available. They should consider offering a wide range of products, sweet and savoury, for parties and for trick or treaters.
“We advise our customers to devise their range well in advance and promote it inside and outside the store with Halloween decorations, signage and posters.”
Brits’ interest in Halloween has spun out of the passion for the spooky season across the Atlantic, and the US Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued advice to help businesses make the most of the opportunity.
Highlights that bakers may find useful include:
- Advertise Halloween discounts, but get creative – offer discounts for customers who dress up or share photos on your social media pages
- Add Halloween-themed or seasonal items to your offerings, with pumpkin flavouring, for example
- Use promotional products: pumpkin-carving designs or trick-or-treat bags featuring your business logo will keep your business in customers’ minds all month long.
- Sponsor a local Halloween event. Ask if you can hand out promotional products, vouchers or product samples
- Create a Halloween competition: make it relevant to your business or crowd-source ideas from your customers
- Support a charity: offer customers treats in return for treating those in need by bringing in canned goods, toys or clothing, or whatever the local charity of your choice is looking for. Publicise your efforts on social media and with local reporters to get more people to pitch in (and visit your bakery)
Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager at Dawn Foods UK and Ireland, says the company is planning a Halloween promotion throughout September and October in selected distributors. New themed recipes available online are also planned, as well as the chance for bakers to win a holiday.
“In recent years we have seen the American influence in UK bakery aisles, with Halloween a prominent theme in branded cakes.
“New additions include flavours such as toffee and apple, orange and blood orange, lemon and lime, and gingerbread with icings in garish colours.”
The trend, she says, is to play with colour and flavour perceptions, such as orange-flavoured green sponge, and to offer cakes in different formats such as minis, which are ideal for trick or treating or sharing at Halloween parties.
And as with everything else in bakery, miniature portions mean big sales.
Thornton’s Creepy Caramel Bites have been one of the main drivers behind successful seasonal sales for the brand with the product recording double digit growth in 2016 compared to 2015.
Jack Cook-Broussine, brand manager at Finsbury Food Group, which makes the cakes, says: “Our Thorntons snacking products, and in particular the Bites range, have been developed in response to changing consumer needs, such as the pursuit of a more balanced lifestyle. Consumers still get the well-known, high-quality product and a chance to indulge in a treat, in a smaller portion size.”
When it comes to flavour, Passmore says orange, pumpkin and chocolate are in demand at Halloween. Dawn’s Scoop and Bake range of frozen batters and doughs is available in a Milk Chocolate & Orange flavour and can be used to make cake pops by baking the mixture in silicone moulds.
“Customers buy with their eyes,” she says, “and a simple cupcake can be given a Halloween twist with the addition of themed decorations.
“The sweet treat market is getting ever more creative when it comes to personalising products too – pipe designs, gothic writing or characters onto finished products in order to personalise them. This is great for Halloween parties.”
And lest you forget, Halloween isn’t just for children. Pumpkin is popular as a Halloween flavour across many food and beverage categories, from spiced pumpkin yoghurts and pumpkin cheesecake to pumpkin lattes, muffins and cookies.
Halloween isn’t confined to sweet treats either. There’s nothing to stop a business topping meat pies with pastry tombstones, for example, or carving out pumpkin-style faces in cob loaves.
So don’t be scared by the thought of Halloween, embrace the opportunity by making sure that your bakery offering is simply spooktacular.
Cackling carrot cake
- Soft butter, 225g
- Caster sugar, 200g
- Emulsifier (or 2 egg yolks), 20g
- Egg, 200g
- Orange zest, 6g
- Wholemeal flour, 88g
- Maize flour, 24g
- Soft plain flour, 86g
- Baking powder, 10g
- Cinnamon, 10g
- Allspice, 5g
- Salt, 1.5g
- Grated carrots, 350g
- Pumpkin seeds, 75g
- Raisins, 80g
Butter Cream Filling
- Soft unsalted Butter, 556g
- Caster sugar, 444g
- Malt extract, 70g
- Reconstituted egg whites, 300g
- Caster sugar, 875g
- Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature.
- Cream butter, sugar and emulsifier together to form light fluffy mixture.
- Beat eggs together before adding to the mix. Add in three or four stages, thoroughly mixing in each addition.
- Sieve dry ingredients together before adding to mix. Mix through gently until batter is smooth.
- Add carrots, seeds and raisins and mix evenly through. Butter cream: Mix all ingredients until smooth. Meringue: Mix all ingredients into firm peaks.
1. Pre-heat oven to: 180˚C/370˚F.
2. Divide batter to fill 3 x 22cm pre-greased expandable tins and bake for 70-90 minutes.
3. Mix meringue and pipe a multi-coloured circular top the same diameter as the cake by placing three different colours in the piping bag. Place into a 150˚F oven and dry.
1. When cakes have cooled remove from tins and cut open into two circular halves.
2. Divide butter cream into three portions and make up into three different colours. Spread cream onto one surface of each cake and join two halves back together.
3. Cream sides of each with the same colour as the inside, lightly spread top surface with jam and mount cakes on top of each other. Use a plastic scraper to fuse the colours together.
4. Spread butter cream onto the surface of cake and lay on the meringue top. Decorate with Halloween figures and icing.
Red Velvet Halloween Cake
- Bakels Multimix Cake Base, 1kg
- Cocoa powder, 340g
- Water, 230g
- Oil, 300g
- Egg, 365g
- Red food colour, 133g
- Using beater, blend all ingredients together for one minute on slow speed
- Scrape down
- Beat on second speed for five minutes
- Mix for one minute on slow speed
- Scale into 7-inch tins at 400g
- Bake at 180˚C/375˚F for approximately 25-35 minutes
- Set up cake using White Fudgice cream
- Coat with orange coloured heated Bakels White Fudgice
- Decorate with heated Bakels Chocolate Fudgice into web shape
- Make spider with Bakels Chocolate Fudgice
- Macphie Premium Fermented Doughnut Powder Concentrate, 1kg
- Cold water, 84g
- Yeast, 80g
- Bread Flour, 1kg
- Macphie 5th Avenue vanilla icing
- Macphie Luxury Filling (if desired)
- Macphie Raspberry Ku-li
- Vanilla ice cream
1. Use water tempered to give a final dough temperature of 28ºC
2. Mixing time: Conventional mixer: 10-15 minutes on middle speed. Spiral mixer: two minutes on slow and eight on fast speed. High speed mixer: two to three minutes
3. Scale dough pieces at 50g each (approx)
4. Proof at 38ºC 75-80% relative humidity for 30-40 minutes
5. Fry at three-quarter prove. Remove doughnuts from prover 5-10 minutes before frying to allow a dry skin to form
6. Fry at 190-195ºC for 90 seconds per side
1. Use Macphie Luxury Fillings to fill and Macphie 5th Avenue Icings to finish
2. To prepare the milkshake, blend vanilla ice cream and milk together, decorate rim of the glass with Ku-li and top with doughnut