Festive cakes and tortes

A red velvet torte from Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

As you plan ahead for the hectic holidays, don’t neglect to showcase at least one of your signature cakes or tortes for the Christmas season.

There’s never a more important time to differentiate your bakery than when hordes of customers are out shopping in full force, looking for that extra special something to treat their families and friends during the holidays.

At Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe, their signature Cheez Torte Cheesecake is a baked vanilla cheesecake that’s filled with red raspberry preserves and tiered with sponge-like dark chocolate cake layers. And for a finishing touch, the cake is covered in scratch buttercream. Customers can order it with ganache instead of raspberry preserves, or butter cake instead of chocolate.

At Weber’s Bakery in Chicago, their famous Banana Split Torte ranks as a holiday favorite among local customers. The torte features two layers of banana cake and one layer of chocolate cake, filled with home-made custard and topped with fresh bananas, whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

One good reason to focus on your signature cakes and tortes is that shoppers are demanding individual flavors and choices more than ever before.


The banana split torte at Weber's Bakery in Chicago.

Groundbreaking industry research reveals that consumers are embarking in new directions in search of the precise product they want for their exact need or specific occasion. This year, 9% of shoppers indicate that they have no one primary food store—triple that of the past few years, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s just-released report US Grocery Shopper Store Trends 2014.

What appears to be driving these shifts, according to the FMI report, is the dynamic of diversification; shoppers are becoming less likely to choose any one store to satisfy all their needs. Shoppers are optimizing their satisfaction store by store and department by department. Media reports that shoppers have been “firing” their grocery stores miss the bigger story: shoppers are now less likely to fire or hire whole stores at all.

Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers total about 74% of the US population—and make up the bulk of today's foodservice consumers. Technomic recently examined the needs and behaviors of each generation—including our very first look at Generation Z—to uncover a number of differences and similarities by cohort.

Gen Z, the first true digital generation, represents the future foodservice consumer. They're a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors.

Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences—such as the importance of a convenient location.

"Each generational group may have distinctly different foodservice needs, yet there are opportunities to leverage their similarities and target specific customer groups without alienating others," says Sara Monnette, senior director for consumer insights of Technomic, Inc. "Regardless of the generation, it's vital for operators and suppliers to understand their core audience. So whether you're working to appeal to your Boomer base through dine-in ambiance or traditional menu offerings, or drawing in younger guests with faster service and an innovative menu, successful execution can begin with identifying and addressing what each group values as a generation."

Thus, the bar has been raised once again. Supermarket bakeries are leveraging the allure of “gourmet” to attract new shoppers and drive repeat sales. This means more competition for the retail bakery to raise the bar even higher.