Spring (Cake) Fever
Spring is many people’s favorite season, and it’s easy to understand why. The days get longer, temperatures grow warmer, animals emerge from hibernation, and flowers begin to bloom. Spring is one of the most beautiful and colorful times of year, making it the perfect backdrop for promoting and showcasing your bakery’s cakes.
Cakes represent the largest percentage of sweet baked good sales, and decorated cakes dominate the category, accounting for 29.9 percent of all cakes sold (data from a 2013 Statista report). With so much sales potential at stake, it’s important to place a heavy emphasis on your cakes this spring—especially your holiday-themed creations.
When thinking about your spring cake strategy, it’s essential to prioritize and plan ahead. According to Dawn Food Products, weekly cake sales reach their highest level of the spring during Mother’s Day, followed by Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and Easter. Of those occasions, Easter comes first, and Amy Hollis, co-owner of Duke Bakery in Illinois, plans accordingly.
“We typically begin doing spring cakes immediately following St. Patrick's Day, unless Easter falls early,” Hollis said. “If Easter is early, then we do a few in early March along with our St. Patrick's Day cakes to get customers in the mindset that Easter is coming. But Mother's Day weekend is by far our busiest cake holiday. ”
Continue to stay one step ahead of the holidays all spring long, and begin putting out associated cakes at least 10 days in advance of each one to maximize your sales potential.
Bright, optimistic, playful… These are just a few of the words that should inspire your spring cake designs.
“We try to keep our spring cakes fresh and new, just like the season,” Hollis said. “We do a lot of cakes with flowers, butterflies, basket weaves, and polka dots. Lamb cakes are still very popular for Easter, as are bunnies and egg-shaped cakes. For Mother's Day we tend to do a lot of heart-shaped cakes. Petit Fours are hugely popular all spring, too!”
According to Pantone’s Fashion Color Report, the color palette for spring 2014 is a “colorful equilibrium” that pairs soft pastels (e.g., placid blue, violet tulip, hemlock green, and sand), with vivid brights (e.g., cayenne, celosia orange, freesia, and dazzling blue). At Duke Bakery, they are right on trend.
“We use a lot of soft pastel colors through Easter, and then brighten the colors for Mother's Day,” Hollis said. “In May, we switch to hot pink, yellow, lime green, and orange.”
Springtime cake flavors are traditionally light, refreshing, and often fruity.
“Our favorite spring flavor combination is lemon cake with raspberry filling or a raspberry buttercream,” Hollis said. “Lemon filling is also very popular at this time of year.”
Classic cake flavors tend to sell well in the spring, too, as they trigger feelings of nostalgia.
“We do a lot of banana split cakes, pineapple upside down cakes, and chocolate cakes with fresh strawberries,” Hollis said. “We also do several varieties of torte-style cakes. And while the once popular coconut-covered cakes have waned in recent years, carrot cake is still a huge seller for us at this time of year.”
With so many springtime holidays, it’s easy to assume that larger cakes will dominate demand. However, according to Dawn Food Products, consumers are increasingly seeking out more cake choices, ranging from value cakes to smaller-sized cakes—an observation being realized at Duke Bakery.
“Easter traditions seemed to have changed, and people in our area are not preparing big family dinners in favor of dining out,” Hollis said. “We still do a lot of cakes for Easter, but they tend to be smaller.”
To put your bakery in a good position to capitalize on cakes this spring, pay attention to the wants and needs of your bakery’s customer base, stay ahead of the holidays, and play up the natural beauty of the season.