According to the 2019 Power of Bakery report, total bread and baked goods sales surpassed $59 billion in 2018, split between the fresh bakery department and items located in the grocery, frozen and dairy departments. Bakery is one of the biggest drivers for trips, bringing shoppers to the store nearly once a week, yet opportunities exist for retailers to increase consumption frequency and household penetration across individual categories.

While 74% of shoppers typically purchase functional items at their primary food store, conversion is much lower of indulgent items/desserts (63%) and special occasion items (40%), according to the inaugural Power of Bakery 2019 Report from the American Bakers Association (ABA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

“Particularly with indulgent items, people want a product that knocks their socks off. They just want it a little smaller,” says Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the ABA.

Convenience and entertaining “are growing like gangbusters,” says Jonna Parker, fresh foods market research expert with IRI. “There is a consumer need for convenience, and that’s what we need to be talking about.”

“Fresh” is the universal winner of production-related claims that matter to consumers, mentioned by seven in 10 shoppers overall and nearly eight in 10 Boomers, reports the Power of Bakery. “Fresh” and “baked today” are easily the two most popular production-related claims out of the list of 12 options. When asked to define freshness, particularly as it relates to functional bakery items, shoppers first point to the date and time. The survey also shared that top-of-mind “bakery” word associations are dominated by positive terms that convey emotion, such as “yummy” or even “love.”

While it remains important to meet consumers’ desires for functional attributes, the data shows there is power in satisfying a customer’s emotion to drive sales.