Each of these bakery trends have been put to work by top-tier dessert makers across the nation.
Want to revolutionize your bakery and rev up your revenue at the same time? Consider this your pastry playbook: a guide to the hottest trends in bakeries right now, including small-sized sweets, crazy flavors, high-tech solutions, and more.
Don’t be scared by the word “trend”—these definitely aren’t flash-in-the-pan fads. Each of these bakery trends have been put to work by top-tier dessert makers across the nation. They also have amazing long-term potential that could help your business and customer base grow, so it’s well worth considering how to work them into your business. Keep reading for six of the hottest trends in bakeries:
1. Tiny Treats
It may sound counterintuitive, but smaller-sized desserts can pave the way to bigger profits.
Just ask Kari Garcia, owner of the wildly popular tsp. baking company in Las Vegas, which focuses on mini cupcakes that come in 12 flavors per month. This promotes a mix-and-match approach that allows customers to sample a variety of treats without going into sugar shock. Garcia says, “It helps customers keep their fitness goals (we are literally a parking lot away from the gym), and also allows them to taste all the rotating new flavors we offer as Limited Editions each month.”
Tiny treats aren’t limited to cupcakes — just about any type of pastry or baked good can be scaled down. Alternatively, you may choose to offer sampler packs of tiny versions of your top treats!
2. Unexpected Flavors
Classics like chocolate and vanilla cupcakes will never go out of style, but everyone likes to try something different every now and again. In addition to the demand for small sizes, Garcia has also noticed a desire for highly unique, unexpected flavor combinations. But it’s not just about sticking together two unlikely ingredients and hoping for the best (remember the bacon-on-everything trend?) She shares that the flavor combinations that have been most successful lately have been “more layered flavors such as our banana cake with salted caramel frosting dipped in potato chips, or our vanilla cake mixed with Red Vines and topped with Buttered Popcorn frosting.”
Interested in developing more “layered” flavors for your bakery menu but not sure where to get started? Lists of unusual flavor combinations abound on the internet—here’s a good starting point. Salted avocado-chocolate cake, anyone?
3. Food Holiday-Themed Treats
Offering special treats for major holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is a no-brainer. But in recent years, bakeries have been embracing lesser-known food holidays, too!
A food holiday is just what it sounds like—a holiday dedicated to a specific food. There are literally hundreds of nationally-recognized food holidays throughout the year, ranging from National Cheeseburger Day to National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day and beyond. Savvy bakery owners are capitalizing on them by offering specialty sweets to encourage customers to do their civic duty.
For instance, Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts went big on National Donut Day on June 3. They polled followers on social media about their favorite specialty donut flavors, and on the big day, they offered a “greatest hits” assortment of customer favorites.
Depending on your bakery’s style, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate. Your bakery might offer brownies with marshmallows and graham crackers mixed into the batter on National S’mores Day on August 10, or boozy coffee-flavored cookies on National Irish Coffee Day on January 25. Or, do something off-the-wall and make some unusual sweet-and-savory cupcakes on National Chicken and Waffles Day on August 8!
4. Branded Baked Goods
It’s all about smart sourcing! These days, bakeries are cozying up with complementary businesses to offer branded pastries to help raise their profile. The idea? Incorporating brand cachet could increase demand for their baked goods.
For instance, a popular St. Louis, MO bakery, Whisk: A Sustainable Bake Shop, clearly markets the fact that it uses products from local tea purveyor Big Heart Tea Co. to create its signature cookie, a ginger-turmeric cookie sandwich filled with cardamom buttercream.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Washington, Cupcake Royale frequently creates baked goods branded with products from other companies. For example, one of their most popular offerings, a coffee-soaked, mascarpone cream-topped cupcake called the “Tiramisu Affogato,” uses Stumptown Coffee’s espresso as a selling point.
As a bakery owner, you can capitalize on the cachet of other companies either by partnering up or simply marketing desirable products that you use as a selling point.
5. Streamlining With Tech
In recent years, bakeries have embraced tech solutions that allow them to create a frictionless experience for customers. People love the control and convenience it gives them, so this trend is likely to continue moving forward.
Some bakeries find that simply putting their menu online helps boost their online profile and attract new customers. Others take it a few steps further, offering online ordering or implementing QR codes to share menus, facilitate orders, and accept cashless payments.
Technology can help streamline the ordering process for your bakery staff and customers alike—it’s a win-win situation.
6. Baking For a Cause
More and more bakeries are putting the “good” in “baked good” by giving back to charity.
For example, Cupcake Royale created a specific cupcake flavor for a cause. They donate 10 percent of that product’s sales to a scholarship fund. Meanwhile, New York City’s famed Magnolia Bakery has a web page dedicated to their philanthropic efforts, which includes a variety of national and local organizations.
As a bakery owner, donating to charity is a great way to connect with your community and give back. As an added bonus, many of these donations are potentially tax-deductible. Customers feel good about making purchases that go toward a good cause. Everyone benefits!
Keep it Sweet
Staying up-to-date with industry trends can help your business stay current. It can also give you inspiration for how to capitalize on them yourself. These six trends have a proven track record in bakeries across the nation—it’s well worth considering how you could adopt them in your business and product development in the near future.
Mark Plumlee is the senior editor for MustHaveMenus, a menu template design service. He writes about restaurant marketing and design.