At Porto’s Bakery, where 6 million customers visit every year, rambutan is a new addition as a topping on the Southern California bakery’s wildly popular mango mousse cake. Native to Southeast Asia, the tropical fruit offers a distinctive flavor that is slightly tart and delicately sweet. More than that, the presentation of exotic fresh fruit on Porto’s mango mousse cakes serves as a supercharger to profits. Customers see something they’ve never encountered before and are more willing to pay a little extra.
Mango mousse cake layers are produced at Porto’s new central bakery and are shipped to the bakery’s three Southern California locations (Glendale, Burbank and Downey). At each store, bakers efficiently assemble the cakes and decorate them with several types of fresh fruit. Porto’s sells a variety of sizes for any customer need: 8-in round for $23, quarter sheet for $35, half sheet for $70, full sheet for $140, individual cake for $2.95, and the Mini Mango Mousse for $1.25.
Fruit tarts are another huge seller nowadays for Porto’s. Owner Raul Porto, whose parents Rosa and Raul Sr. opened the family’s first California bakery in 1975, foresees a pressing need for retail bakeries to respond to America’s growing battle against sugar.
“One of the things we thought, especially lately in California, where all you hear is that everyone wants to eat healthier, we were always concerned that if we all we had were products with chocolate and cream, some customers just wouldn’t be happy with that,” Porto says. “Fruit tarts are a big component of our sales. We started them maybe 15 years ago. Today, we actually not only do the fruit tarts, but we have a lot of cakes that have fruit in them. A fruit tart might have the same calories as a chocolate cake, but it’s perceived as a healthier, more natural product. I think that’s where we’re going.”
Different trends for different cities
Elsewhere in America, retail bakeries are adapting to local demand, which can vary dramatically from one part of the country to the next. In Indiana, Muncie-based Concannon’s Bakery, Café and Coffee Bar features new gourmet donuts, including varieties topped with kids’ cereal. Titus Bakery, located in Lebanon, IN, offers a creative assortment of donut varieties including the new Caterpillar donut for kids.
“We typically have 12 to 13 varieties of donuts,” says Titus Bakery owner Terry Rake. “What we try to do is expand on the types of donuts by how it’s finished. One donut we might add chocolate and sprinkles. Another donut, which is the same type of donut, we might fill it with a type of jelly. Obviously, we have a lot of kids who visit the bakery. One thing that we brought on board is what we call a Caterpillar. Basically, it’s just four donut holes on a stick. We proof them with a stick in it, we fry it and then we decorate it, including adding M&Ms as eyes. It’s very popular and we sell a lot of them.”
Choice is everywhere, and there’s plenty of it. The upside for brands, companies and retailers is that consumers are ready to pay a premium for it—but only if they get a premium benefit. In many ways, consumers’ definition of value has morphed beyond a simple price sticker.
So in a fragmented consumer product world, brands and companies are standing out by offering value to their customers after they get to know them. In the end, it all comes down to choice and consumer needs. Today’s “needs” are different than they used to be. So the goal for companies, brands and retailers hinges on getting to know their consumers, engaging with them to understand their priorities and then delivering in ways that are meaningful and create lasting value—beyond price.