There was a time, long ago, when a retail bakery could afford to rely on its service cases to be the workhorse of the sales floor. Customers would gladly walk up to the bakery service case to be greeted by a friendly member of your staff, who would ask the customer what they were looking for and promptly fill their request.
But today’s retail environment requires a different sort of strategic thinking because so many of your customers are rushing into the bakery with a set list of expectations and little time to spend on personal interaction. They want to get in and out as fast as they can.
With this realty in mind, it behooves every retail bakery owner to plot a strategy for how packaging can play a more integral role in boosting self-service business by driving impulse sales, particularly among the growing number of shoppers who expect immediate gratification.
Ask yourself:
  • What percentage of your bakery’s sales is self-serve vs. service?
  • What are your goals?
  • How much does your bakery rely on walk-in traffic, compared to the numbers of customers who come in specifically for a purpose?
  • How does your current packaging measure up?
  • Is it attractive and inviting?
  • Does your bakery packaging communicate the message of your brand?
According to Hubert, visual merchandising plays an integral role in the effective of your bakery packaging. There are five key elements to visual merchandising:
  1. Landscaping – the shape, form and elevation of an area
  2. Texture – an item’s physical structure with respect to size, shape, appearance and feel
  3. Color – used to attract attention, create associations and command emotional responses
  4. Décor – the enrichment of displays by the addition of elements that contribute style and interest
  5. Communication – sharing information or knowledge through a common system of signs, symbols or photos within a display
“Design is one of the most underleveraged marketing tools because of the uncertainty built into the process and absence of metrics to track results,” says Andrew Somosi, executive vice president of product leadership at Nielsen.
According to industry data, as much as 90 percent of new package designs fail to deliver a measurable sales increase, and 50% of in-market designs actually hurt brand equity, according to Nielsen.
A recent Mintel study outlined a 2016 trends report that indicates consumers are demanding more information about what they are buying but seeking less on-pack clutter that confuses their purchasing decisions. “This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in food, where clear and concise information about ingredients, functional product attributes and safety must be communicated with total transparency,” according to Mintel.
In addition, 63 percent of US consumers have stated that reusable and repurposable packaging is a key purchasing driver, according to Mintel. Going forward, when product price and perceived product quality are equal, consumers will be increasingly turning to these eco- and alternative-use attributes as the deciding purchasing factor.
Size and form of packaging are other important packaging attributes. 
Mintel’s report pointed to flexible packaging as a significant trend in 2016, and also revealed that 50 percent of snacking consumers are willing to try a new product if it comes in a small package. As an example of how one innovation addresses this trend, Robbie Fantastic Flexibles, a packaging company based in Lenexa, Kansas, features the new Fresh N Tasty Bakery Pouch (and available as a Single Serve Pouch). Research shows that consumers love attractive graphics, a handle for easy carrying, a large window for viewing the product, and a resealable zipper that locks in freshness, according to Robbie.

Packaging Innovations


In other innovations from packaging companies, Enjay Converters Ltd. features new black laminated boxes for cakes and cupcakes. The high-gloss boxes are easy to assemble and constructed for recycled fiber board material. 
Inline Plastics Corp. introduces RoundWare, the latest additions to the Safe-T-Fresh family of containers. These 4-inch by 4-inch round hinged food containers are ideal for sweet goods, bakery snacks, dried fruits and nuts and other grab-and-go items. The RoundWare line is both tamper-evident and leak-proof, ensuring your product remains safe and secure from store to kitchen.
The new Sabert Bakery Collection is a disposable packaging line that meets diverse operator needs while driving impulse sales and making any premium assortment of desserts look irresistible. Sabert’s products are designed to meet the rigorous demands of today’s food life cycles and modern consumer lifestyles. Made from fully recyclable PET, the new containers are crack and crush resistant, offering more flexibility than classic polystyrene bakery containers. Locking and stackable lids and bases hold bakery items in place to ensure product integrity. Hinged designs help operators keep fewer items and save space in back of house.
The Innoseal Crystal Professional Sealer is a tamper evident bag closing system, which uses a unique, resealable tape and paper combination to seal bags. Fast, easy and safe, each sealer comes preloaded with closures and ready to use. The sealer is used to reduce labor costs and the exposure to Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. It is also self-contained; no waste (wire ties on the floor) and is composed of ABS plastic which is the same material used to produce football helmets. 
Retailers’ needs for packaging that delivers on-the-go consumer convenience, ease of use and improved shelf efficiencies have been driving forces behind Clear Lam’s innovations, including new Drink Pouches that are rapidly replacing rigid containers for many food applications because of their economical, lightweight structure and grab-and-go convenience. Designed to provide consumers with a resealable and portable package, these new packaging films are used to assemble a pouch with a fitment on a horizontal form-fill-seal machine. Further, Clear Lam’s expansion of Peel & ReSeal technology is designed to replace rigid lids and shrink bands with lidding that is ideal for bakery, confectionery, deli and produce packaging.
Tray-Pak Corporation is producing several new packaging designs using this glass-like, heat-resistant polymer. Tray-Pak’s containers enable retail food stores to enhance the appeal and convenience of fresh-to-go foods with value-added packaging, including 8-ounce and 16-ounce containers. Milliken’s NX UltraClear PP is equally well suited for hot and cold food packaging. The ability to use each Tray-Pak container for both types of applications simplifies ordering, streamlines logistics and improves space management in the back of the store.
In other innovations, Anchor Packaging, Inc. announces the latest addition to the successful Incredi-Bowls line of microwavable bowls and lids.  The new, round 7.25-inch polypropylene (PP) bowls are designed to enhance the operator’s bottom line. In addition to hot cases, the Incredi-Bowls and lids can be used in refrigerated or ambient displays. All are dishwasher safe providing consumer-convenient reusability and are recyclable curbside.
“We’re seeing more green options in packaging — recyclable, reusable and degradable — as manufacturers reduce source material creating lighter primary and secondary packaging thus reducing waste,” says Paula Feldman, director of business intelligence for PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “We expect this practice to increase in the coming years.”