Technomic’s latest report: America’s restaurant customers have been frequently visiting bakery-café chains these past years, allowing this segment to have a significant increase in total market share as compared to quick-service and casual–dining segments. Bakery-café brands now account for annual sales of $5 billion, with 3,600 units all over the United States, reflecting a 4.2% increase in total bakery-cafe units and a total increase of 12% in the past three years.
Technomic’s “Bakery Café Consumer Trend Report” gave details on how the bakery café restaurant segment was able to outpace all others when 71% of 1,500 respondents claim to have visited a bakery-café establishment, a vast increase from a similar report that was released in 2008. Of these bakery-café consumers, 72% says that they visit a bakery-café restaurant at least once a month.
“As it turned out, bakery-café chains have continued to gain market share,” said Technomic’s executive vice president Darren Tristano. “This growth surprisingly happened in a zero-growth environment, as more customers are now visiting these types of restaurants and getting themselves familiar with the concept, although almost one in every three customers who were surveyed still claim that they have never visited a bakery-café restaurant. Their most common reason for not visiting is the location and unfamiliarity of the concept.”
The reported segment leader is Panera Bread, which was able to strengthen its stance in the bakery-café arena in the recent years. 69% of the respondents visited and purchased food from Panera occasionally, and among all of its visitors, 69% visit them no less than once a month. Its U.S. system wide revenue in 2010 amounts to $2.9 billion, and its domestic locations reached 1,324 units. The other chains that have a reported steady following from consumers are Tim Hortons, Einstein Bros Bagels, Au Bon Pain, Corner Bakery Café, Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery, La Madeleine, Paradise Bakery and Atlanta Bread Company.
“We are likely to see a lot more start-up independent operators and smaller chains who would take advantage of this segment,” said Tristano. “Independent operators can very well add to the customers’ regional preferences, building their elegant menus and quality menu holders around baked goods and fresh products. There’s also very little basis to think that this segment will not continue its excellent performance.”
Other important points to note:
• 75% of the customers who were surveyed think that quality of service is highly important in deciding which bakery-café restaurant they should visit.
• 66% says speed of service is as important in making that decision.
• There is an opportunity found in improving breakfast menu choices on restaurants’ menus and menu holders. 34% of the respondents agreed that they would visit bakery-café restaurants at breakfast more frequently if there are more options in their breakfast menus.
• Cafes can now pull on a baked bread culture, and the artisan type of baking. Operators can take on more sophisticated systems in preparing their menu items with superior skill sets.
• Technomic suggests keeping hospitality as the operators’ highest priority in order to meet consumer expectation. Deploy friendly, attentive and suggestive service approaches which would make customers feel more important and recognized.
Survey has shown that there is indeed fire behind those ovens, and given the right moves and approach, restaurant operators can very well make the most of this fire to boost restaurant sales.