By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic management agency that works on brand development within the bakery, foodservice and convenience retail sectors.

Are you looking to improve your bakery offer by adding new products that meet today’s trends? Good idea, as there is a lot going on in the baking industry for example, the recent rise of gluten-free products, favoured by customers with dietary concerns. While the ’low-carb’ bakery category has experienced a slight downturn in demand, gluten-free products are growing. The gluten-free bread market, for example, rose from around £8m at its launch to about £13m today and is expected to be worth £19m-£20m by this time next year (British Baker, 2010).

This growth is, first and foremost, due to an increase in people diagnosed with gluten intolerance and coeliac disease. However, those interested in a healthier lifestyle are also showing interest in gluten-free products. Research firm him! says 31% of bakery product customers would appreciate information about the product’s content and nutritional values.

If this approach is too specialised for your offer and customers, no problem just try different fillings and toppings for your sweet and savoury products. Why not surprise your customers with a ham and cheese croissant, focusing on the provenance of your ingredients French cheese, Italian hams and sausages, for example. Hold your savouries hot for your customers on the move. Play on British heritage and introduce English thick-cut marmalade muffins or try out a US-inspired product, such as a rich pecan pie. Merchandise your range in handy individual-size portions people are easily tempted by a smaller slice than a whole cake!

Your customers will definitely appreciate your extended and diversified offer. Thirty per cent of bakery products customers buy their products in bakeries, cafés, and convenience stores, because they are looking for a snack in-between meals, according to him! (Coffee Shop Report 2009) and, as nobody wants the same snack every day, customers will be delighted to try out something new.

Him! also says 88% of bakery customers do not have a specific budget in mind when they hunt for a snack, so you can even charge a little premium on your special offers.