For consumers, there’s nothing quite like the fresh-from-the-oven experience when it comes to baked goods. However, not everyone has the skills or time to make bakery-quality items from scratch. And today’s shoppers would rather not sacrifice the convenience of packaged foods that they’ve grown to love. So they’ll be seeking that fresh-baked, indulgent experience in the supermarket bakery aisle, while, at the same time, striving to choose products with healthy, functional ingredients.
These are the things buyers think about when determining a bakery product’s quality. And quality is gaining influence over what they buy. When shopping for pre-packaged baked goods, 60% of consumers choose products based on perceived quality. The only factor of greater significance in that choice is price (71%).
Here’s a closer look at what consumers believe represents quality in the bakery aisle.
A preference for freshness
When browsing bakery items, consumers often equate quality with freshness. And for 70% of shoppers, “fresh” implies that the product was recently baked or prepared. They determine freshness by a product’s appearance and color (59%), smell (55%), and expiration date (44%).
Taste and smell are excellent ways to evaluate quality and freshness. But unless product samples are available, shoppers can’t use these senses to make buying decisions about pre-packaged goods. They can, however, judge by appearance.
The rising popularity of sourdough bread, for example, is thanks to the fact that it looks and feels like a quality product. It possesses the unique crust texture and soft, flavorful interior one expects of homemade bread. If customers can see characteristics like these through the package, they can better assess the quality. Adding windows in the packaging is a great way to let shoppers take a peek inside.
Offering ready-to-bake and frozen products is another great way to satisfy consumers’ desire for homemade quality in a convenient format.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
To get a good idea of product quality, consumers often flip over the package. Generally, they’re looking for a clean, short ingredients list that consists of items they recognize. They avoid highly processed and artificial ingredients and gravitate toward simple, pure ones (such as whole eggs instead of dried eggs).
With the right ingredients, quality baked goods provide a premium taste that’s guilt-free, thanks to the addition of health-boosting ingredients. From the consumer’s perspective, some of the added ingredients that contribute to a higher quality product include ancient grains, sprouted grains and seeds, spirulina, turmeric, plant-based flours, and natural coloring from plant extracts. They also look for content like fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics and prebiotics, as well as claims like low sugar and reduced fat.
Shoppers also consider the source of the ingredients when determining quality. They may search for information on which farms produced the ingredients, whether those farms are local, how they treat their animals, and how they grow and harvest their crops.
To the customer, the story of the food — from farm to factory to market — is evidence of the care and attention to detail that makes a quality product. Establishing this level of transparency helps baked goods manufacturers build trust and better showcase the quality of their products.