Well-crafted social media outreach to both a business’ community of customers and its professional community can strengthen its brand while increasing its customer base and loyalty. Establishing best practices guidelines for your business and your employees will maximize social media’s benefits for your company.
New research reveals how food retail is taking a beating -- and by whomCarman Allison has a great way with words. He uses turns of phrase you don’t expect from an economic report, which is refreshing. Allison is vice-president of consumer insights for Nielsen Canada, and he presented his new report about food retail and demographics at the 2014 Food Trends Forecast Symposium in November, sponsored by NSF-GFTC, formerly known as the Guelph Food Technology Centre.“Sputtering for growth,” according to Allison, is what’s happening in consumer packaged goods, two-thirds of which is made up of food. His title for metrics showing how inflation has stayed at two per cent since 2011 and how no growth could be wrenched from that: “Flat is the New Growth.”Feeling that economic conditions haven’t improved much since last year, consumers are keeping a tight hold of their wallets: 59 per cent are trying to bring down their household expenses, and 73 per cent are working on lowering their grocery spending.Consumers are discount-addicted, says Allison, a habit they can feed liberally thanks to discount food shopping available from retailers like No Frills, Wal-Mart and Target, and more recently, from dollar stores.In big-picture terms, $6 billion in grocery sales has shifted to discounters since 2007. A U.S. metric gives us a feel for where we could be headed: 83 per cent of Americans who shop at dollar stores are buying food there, too. If Canadian dollar stores follow a significant American trend – adding refrigeration to offer dairy and other perishable food staples to the dollar-store buy – we can expect sales and shares to rise here, too.So who’s gobbling up all those discounts? Here’s Allison’s current generational breakdown: boomers (aged 48-67) make up 28 per cent of our population. Gen Ys (19-37) are nipping at their heels at 27 per cent. Gen Zs (18 and under) make up 16 per cent. The GI generation (68+] and Gen Xers (38-47) each make up 14 per cent.(In case you’re wondering, because we don’t hear the term much, the GI generation came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. GI stands for “Government Issue,” but we know it best as a synonym for soldier.)Millennials, essentially a composite of Gen X and Y, are vastly underrepresented in the market, says Allison. It’s tough to win their business. Their loyalty is very difficult to earn and keep. Price is the first thing they consider, and 80 per cent of them are easily persuaded to buy a different brand, which is to say, if you’ve won them as a customer today, don’t expect them to keep them, unless you’re offering the right price, tomorrow.So, how are they eating? Millennials take 68 per cent of their meals at home, compared to boomers at 79 per cent. Millennials want foods with little to no prep time. Boomers want to cook from scratch, using basic and fresh ingredients.Why are millennials so important? They are poised to become the country’s largest population group by as soon as 2020. Is five years long enough to get our products in front of them, at the right price?Two more food retail trends worth noting: ethnic food shopping is up 20 per cent, involving 17 per cent of Canadian households, to the estimated tune of $4-5 billion; and online grocery shopping has Loblaw in the game mid-September, but it’s Amazon that Canadian food manufacturers need to watch.Like Allison, J.P. Gervais also presented at the GFTC symposium. Gervais is chief agricultural economist at Farm Credit Canada, and like Allison, he had some valuable intel for our sector’s boots on the ground. He used an interesting phrase more than once, the kind truth tellers might use: “… but nobody wants to hear that.”What does the food-processing sector not want to hear? We need to get more out of our labour. Food processing has invested heavily bringing new products to market, but they haven’t invested heavily in process innovation to increase productivity. Companies are differentiating themselves with successful product innovation. Consumers are demanding —and getting—higher-value, healthier and more sophisticated products. But the value added comes at a high cost.“Business is always getting squeezed between raw product costs going up and retail pressure,” Gervais said. In the end, it will all come down to how much the consumer is willing to pay when household budgets are also stretched.Finally, off-presentation and onto important commodity news for the bakery sector, I asked Gervais what he thought of the so-called looming chocolate shortage, which has been causing some speculation and uncertainty. “What we’re really talking about when we talk about a shortage,” said Gervais, “is the availability of chocolate at the price we want to pay at any given time. There are supply issues from traditional sources (Africa), but there are also a stronger demand from economies in emerging markets (South America).” His prediction: prices could stay high for a couple of years, “just enough time for producers to increase supply.” Stephanie Ortenzi is a food marketing writer and blogs at pistachiowriting.com.
The new year is here and with it comes another spate of predictions and prognostications as to what will be the hottest food-industry trends to watch in 2015. Trendspotting is big business for marketers, and it makes for good conversation around the water cooler, lunch counter, or trade show. We all want to feel like we’re in the know when it comes to what customers are going to be looking for in the weeks and months to come.In this issue, we have plenty of content related to trends. Check out Carolyn Camilleri’s feature on page 20, Diane Chiasson’s Concepts for Success column on page 14, and Stephanie Ortenzi’s Final Proof column on page 102 for insights that could very well shape your business strategy for 2015 and beyond.Trends have a way of coming and going, though—with a few notable exceptions, of course, such as cupcakes. Flavour predictions, in particular, carry a sense of being pulled out of a hat at random.This isn’t to say that bakeries should ignore trends. Embrace trends. Experiment and innovate. See what works and what could use more thought. Or stick to the tried and true while adding some zest or flair that will get your customers talking. It’s all about finding a strategy that works for you and your business, instead of slavishly following what the so-called experts believe customers will be salivating over in 2015 and beyond.The nominees for Bakers Journal’s 2014 Business Innovation Award couldn’t be a better representation of such varying approaches to trendspotting. Some, like Zelcovia Cookies in Toronto, have taken the trend toward online, automated ordering and order processing to the extreme. Its owner/operator, Alan Zelcovitch, spent a whopping $30,000 on a fully customized solution that would transform his ordering process and back-end management system, eliminating the need for hours upon hours of paperwork and allowing him to slash expenditures on labour. Now, Zelcovitch is able to run the business entirely by himself, with the exception of Christmastime when demand is at its highest. And, what’s more, his profits have never been higher.“I used to not want to spend money,” Zelcovitch told Bakers Journal in an interview last year. “Now I will spend whatever it takes to make the problems go away.”And then there’s our winner, Bonjour Bakery in Edmonton, which is owned and operated by Yvan Chartrand. His bakery does a tremendous job of maintaining the delicate balance between fostering innovation and producing time-tested, traditional products that consumers can’t get enough of. Chartrand has tapped into the fervour for hand-crafted, artisanal products by teaming up with meat-, cheese-, and wine-makers, and he’s passionate about the role small bakeries play in communities, seeing other bakers not as rivals but as inspiration and even potential partners. He’s even run a bakery in Japan. For more about Bonjour Bakery, see page 10.On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the nominees for the 2014 Bakers Journal Business Innovation Award, as well as our sponsors: Lesaffre Yeast/Red Star, Dawn Foods, Paragon Glaze and Olympic Wholesale. I had thoughtful, informative conversations with many of the nominees that served to re-introduce me to Canada’s vibrant baking industry. As some of you reading this might recall, I edited Bakers Journal from 2008 to 2010. I have the privilege to fill in for Laura Aiken while she’s on maternity leave, and so, without further ado, let me just say it’s great to be back!
Jan. 5, 2015 -- Most of us send so many emails over the course of a day, we don't give a second thought as to what kind of impression they can have on how others view us. Even a well written email can make us appear less professional just through presentation and style.
With some good merchandising and creativity, you can attract a bigger lunch crowd at your bakery.
The red-hot trend of comfort food with a twist suggests people want to have it all. They want what feels familiar and safe – but they also enjoy the playfulness of trying something new.
What a mega-deal can teach us about building a brand and keeping it strong.
Oct. 22, 2014 – Move over, Millennials. Generation Z is poised to enter the workforce and they're bringing a whole new set of expectations with them.
Sept. 26, 2014 – Learn five ways to turn upset customers into fans by investing in front-line training.
People are more focused in their shopping habits these days. Here are five things you should know.
Aug. 29, 2014 – Many businesses are discovering the immense power of having a blog on their company website. Here are some tips on how to engage your customers.
Here are five easy steps to create a direct marketing campaign that really works.
Fondant can be a lot of fun. It’s like Play-Doh for adults, where your imagination is the only limit and the results are razzle-dazzle.
June 23, 2014 – Execute poorly and suffer extreme consequences. That is the one certainty you face when rebranding your company or product name, logo, phrase or design scheme.
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Bakery Showcase 2019 Trade Show & Conference
May 5-6, 2019