TREND: Trends: what customers expect from their bakers...

At the national ‘Foodservice’ congress in Ghent, all eyes were on Hans Steenbergen, a Dutch national and ‘Food Trendwatcher of the Year 2010’, a man keeping up very well with what is happening in the world of bakers and patisserie chefs. We present an overview of seven observations he has made, as well as some from top marketing specialist Guillaume Van der Stighelen.

Together: the dawn of a new intimacy
People are constantly on the look-out for genuine contact; they want to eat together, feel united and share experiences. More and more often the social element plays a role in places where people eat together. Taking this as an impulse, restaurants are increasingly using communal tables and everything is done to create a feeling of familial intimacy, even in the dining areas of bakeries and patisseries. Let’s reflect on the success of a chain such as ‘Le Pain Quotidien’, which places a lot of emphasis on its communal tables. People get to know others there and start to engage in conversation. “Even in the heart of the city, you can form one large family”, claims the firm’s slogan. A perfect illustration of the ‘new familial intimacy’ is also offered by the Dutch enterprise ‘De Bakkerswinkel’. Their approach involves giving customers the impression of going back in time, with traditional, home-made bread, tartlets and jam all served in their establishments.

Individual: from profit to value
People want to be seen as unique. By way of example, there are ice cream parlours where customers can compose their own ice cream by selecting their particular choice of flavours, toppings, fruits and sauces. (...)

Expression: minimalism is a thing of the past
Customers can dive into a world rich in flavours, colours and fragrances; “the more extravagant it is, the better it is” seems to be the motto. The patisserie ‘De tart van mijn tante’ in Amsterdam is an example of this. It is an establishment where the clientele are submerged in a richness of colours. The kitsch furnishings sit in perfect harmony with the ‘over-the-top’ tarts and cakes, rich in colours. When customers leave they want to talk about it for several minutes. A good thing too because people do actually want to have an adventure.

Extensive: more experiences for less money
There are too few professionals. The new concepts must therefore succeed in improving what customers experience, while also reducing costs. A good example would be the growing number of automatic bread distributers, where customers can access fresh bread, day or night.

Energetic: the everyday routine becomes something special
People are devoting more attention to healthy eating. The next step in this trend is food and drink that gives you energy. A piece of wholesome bread is not an ideal source of energy? We could do better. Think of the ‘brolly’; bread on a lollipop stick. It is gathering much interest from the restaurant and catering sector. Bread is presented as a snack; welcome to the future.

Elegant: the return of warmth
According to Hans Steenbergen, there is an accelerated feminisation of society. Furthermore, the baker can more easily entice women with light, delicious products, for instance. The key words are light, natural, organic and fresh. At the same time customers also want food that is pleasing to the eye; combining food and fashion, or creations which can be compared to fashion collections.

Truthful & honest: the growth of sharing
Pure, honest, authentic. Consumers want to see what they are eating and feel well doing so. This experience is linked to the authenticity and honesty of the producer and product. For this reason the baker Dimitri Roels from ‘Vlaamsch Broodhuys’ has chosen to sell traditional bread made using honest raw materials: from organic flour to authentic wheat, from Brittany sea salt to revitalised spring water and baking in accordance with bygone traditions. But also organic, fair-trade and seasonal products are examples of this trend. Or the fact that consumers want more and more of their food to come from their local area. Why eat bread from a supermarket when the baker down the road sells delicious bread? On the basis of this trend, regional products have a bright future.

Towards the largest part of the market
The marketing specialist Guillaume Van der Stighelen adds to the trends outlined by Hans Steenbergen with pieces of advice which should contribute to success. To start with, do what consumers cannot, will not or are not in a position to do. Make sure people remember you by keeping in mind the four components: ‘game’, ‘name’, ‘fame’ and ‘claim’. The game is the task that you take on for yourself, for instance, a dining area with a communal table. Choose the name of your enterprise well. The third element is fame: recognition, especially visual recognition, with an individual logo, small plates and special cutlery, etc. Finally, there is also the claim, the way of remembering the adventure. In New York, Van der Stighelen saw a small notice on a table with the following warning on it: “conversation with other human beings is not prohibited in this area”. After having done everything for the ‘game’, ‘name’, ‘fame’ and ‘claim’, you have to make sure that people talk about the establishment. The internet – Facebook! – is the best possible place.

Hans Steenbergen, trendwatcher: “Consumers are on the look-out for a certain feeling of intimacy, even in the dining area of a bakery
or patisserie.”
Guillaume Van der Stighelen, marketing specialist: “Success begins with a good idea, a good name and something that will get you recognised.”

Reprinted from: Brood & Banket (Bakery & Pastry) Magazine, nr. 1 / 2011

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