Vhari Russell, founder of The Food Marketing Expert, looks at how even small bakery businesses could tap the trend for personalisation.

"Personalisation is a growing market and one that is being increasingly addressed by large brands. KitKat recently unveiled a customised bar, following a test market in a London store a couple of years ago. Nestlé is offering customers the opportunity to design their perfect KitKat, selecting from a choice of chocolate base and three toppings from a range of 14 to create a bespoke bar.

In the bakery sector, sales of customised biscuits and cakes featuring photos, logos or messaging represents a great initiative to drive customer footfall but can require substantial investment.

Also, this is more in line with the traditional view of personalisation and is not in keeping with the origination of a genuinely bespoke product, which is where the industry is witnessing most growth. Developing a product that reflects personal taste preferences, resulting in a truly authentic one-off is more in line with current consumer expectations. Naturally, this also brings with it significant potential to fulfil gifting occasions with a ‘made-for-you’ bake.

Bakeries have strong personal relationships with their customers and the nature of the product purchase dictates regular repeat buying – and therefore a higher frequency of in-store visits.

So, why not capitalise on the consumer trend for all things personal by offering a ‘best of both cakes’ proposition? For example, customers who love chocolate and vanilla could buy into a ‘half chocolate, half vanilla’ cake. This could be extended to include a variety of well-known cakes such as coffee, carrot, fruit,even gingerbread – allowing further half-and-half choices or simply providing an option to select their preferred base layer.

In addition, bakers could look at offering personalised messaging on the cakes, or establishing a range of favourite toppings, incorporating recognized confectionery favourites such as Maltesers, Smarties or Rolos. Using these building blocks, customers could build their own dream cake.

The same principle could be applied to cookies, using a selection of differently flavoured doughs, toppings and inclusions. Depending on volume, it may also be possible to include a customised box to house the cakes/cookies.

Alternatively, standard white or brown boxes can be used but with the option for the customer to colour the box in themselves, providing another tool to deliver a truly personalised end product.