By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic business firm, specialising in the bakery, foodservice and convenience retail sectors

How easy is it for bakery retailers to introduce promotional activities and develop an annual promotional plan?

Our colleagues at him! confirmed that 60% of your customers actively look for sales promotions and meal deals when entering stores (Food to Go Report 2009). And a staggering 30% of customers never saw a promotion while shopping. These statistics beg the question of what are you doing, right now, to capture 90% of your market?

Firstly consider well-known sales promotion techniques, such as price discounts, happy hours, buy-one-get-one-free, coupons, sampling, premiums, loyalty cards, link deals or meal deals. Providing you offer a minimum 14% total discount based on the total combined price you can call the offer a promotion. Obviously, you can be more generous, but start small and work your way up. For instance, look at your best-sellers sausage rolls, croissants, pains au chocolat, steak slices, Cornish pasties and link each one with an appropiate item, such as coffee/tea, juice/smoothie, water/carbonate depending on the time of day and meal/snacking occasion. Communicate your offer through clearly price-pointed, product-centric images and posters. Shelf-talkers work especially well at the counter where customers make their final decision.

Be sure to offer low, medium and high-value meal deals, which give your customers choice and variety. In turn, you will get increased sales and profits.

Remember it’s also about building a relationship with your customers; loyalty is big business and is one of the strongest promotional tools.

Choose your promotions carefully, based on your customer research, sales data and buying habits. Break down your sales by product category, season and time of a day. Always ask your customers what they want, too, what are they looking for from your store and how you can better satisfy them.