Celebrating 'Allidays'

National Donut Day, a popular Alliday, has grown in popularity over the years.

There’s a change in our nation when it comes to celebrating holidays. Beyond the traditional birthdays, weddings, graduations and major religious holidays are the phenomena of “Allidays,” which celebrate just about everything else. Think St. Patrick’s Day, Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Oscars, Donut Day and Derby Day. Online calendars identify at least one celebration per day, all through the calendar year, so there is plenty of opportunity for festivity.

Allidays are popular with millennials, who have $1.99 trillion in spending power. Breaking with tradition, this generation doesn’t require you to be part of their family unit to be included in the celebration. And while this type of holiday may be more casual than its traditional counterpart, food prep is still a challenge. Consumers may reference Pinterest to try to create themes, but those with little to no experience baking or decorating continue to look to the professionals for help in serving up perfection to their friends, family, coworkers and guests, especially as they enjoy talking about and sharing their festivities on social media.

This is where you come in. Allidays offer ample opportunity for the retail bakery to increase store sales by driving awareness of the holiday and serving as the source consumers turn to when they need help preparing for their celebration.

How can you turn an Alliday into an opportunity to build business? Here are four things to consider as you get started:

Know your customers

Realize that every opportunity is not the right one. National Doodle Day or Zipper Day may not be a popular bakery sales opportunity, but perhaps Pi Day (on March 14), which is now recognized by Congress, could be a possibility. Remember, the celebration has to be legitimate or creative enough to generate interest. To make a nontraditional holiday work, it’s crucial to know the market and what your customers care about and respond to. Even if you are not personally interested in the holiday, it’s the customer’s impression that is most important. Seventy-seven percent of shoppers treat themselves to deals during the typical holiday season. Allidays are another opportunity to tap into that self-indulgence, so consider what baked goods are already best sellers as you prepare for your Alliday.

Plan ahead

Look at the sales for the previous year and identify any gaps where you experienced a slowdown. Ideally, the event should fall at a time of year when sales are normally not at their peak, helping you to drive additional sales. You probably won’t need to slash prices for the event; typically, the promotion itself generates enough excitement.

“When there is a unique baked item offered during the promotion, customers are typically eager to purchase it at full price,” said Kim Ennis, food service sales at Dawn Foods. “In that case there is no need to do a two-for-one special. You may, however, think about providing a coupon to bring customers back at another time of year that is slow.”

When it comes to having proper inventory on hand, work with your supplier several months out to estimate what you are going to create for the event. Often the quantity needed depends on your capacity to produce. You also want to plan ahead when it comes to promotion. Hang posters or use countertop signs to alert customers of the event. Share the announcement, along with photos, on social media before and during the event. Consider taking samples of baked goods to your local news stations the day before or the day of the event to generate buzz.

Ask for employee input

A successful promotion requires employee buy-in. They are the ones interfacing with the customer, and you want the team to be excited. Look to them for input about which holidays should be celebrated. Perhaps encourage their suggestions with a contest. Once you have a plan in place, educate them about the holiday, what you hope to accomplish and what you plan to sell. Consider ordering special T-shirts or buttons to wear the day of the sale to pique customer interest.

Seek a value-added partner

As an independent bakery, donut or cake shop, you don’t always have the opportunity to go to industry events where you can see the latest trends and creations for yourself. That is why it is important to work with a supplier that can regularly bring new ideas and concepts to you. They know your store and your area; they can also advise you on what has worked for others. It’s essential that this partner have technical support personnel on staff willing and available to help you finesse your special product.

You also want personnel who can help estimate the amount of ingredients required for your promotion, based on other events they’ve seen in their region. They may be able to suggest a particular cake mix for your promotional item that can be repurposed for multiple baked goods, including the ones you typically make, reducing your out-of-pocket costs. This partner should have everything on hand to help you capitalize on the holiday, from the product to the packaging and promotional materials.

National Donut Day is an example of an Alliday that has grown in popularity over the years, bringing additional revenue to those bakeries that participate. Dating back to 1938, it takes place the first Friday in June. Many stores offer a free donut with purchase of a beverage, or some other combination special.

“Those bakeries that choose to be involved typically double or triple their sales the day before, during and after the event when they actively promote it,” said Erik Enyedy, director of marketing at Dawn Foods. “We have found National Donut Day to be an excellent example of a nontraditional holiday that our clients and their customers enjoy celebrating.”

No matter what Alliday your bakery decides to observe, there is a full year of opportunity to tap into when it comes to growing your business.