What’s the Birthday Cake of the Future? Ask America’s Kids

Rich’s Senior Marketing Manager Deanne McDonell sounds almost giddy when discussing what young children believe the birthday cake of the future should look like.

For one 11-year old boy, his dream birthday cake was a sombrero shaped taco, complete with gummy worms and breath mints on the brim of the sombrero”, shares McDonell, while citing some recent survey responses.

“These kids dream big! We heard suggestions for everything from cakes with 3-D video action figures to a cake with a dragon scaling a castle. Some kids want big birthday donuts or cookies instead of cake and another just wants pizza. I think we adults probably put more parameters than kids do on what qualifies as a birthday cake.”

While these “birthday cake 2.0” poll results might sound surreal, they contain just the sort of valuable insight that could shift the future of the in-store bakery (ISB). Managing such surveys and analyzing the results for Rich’s In-Store Bakery & Deli Division customers is all in a day’s work for McDonell, whose role in Customer/Shopper Marketing is to give the company’s bakery partners a unique perspective on changes in the industry.

“We often uncover interesting tidbits that will become conversation starters with our customers,” McDonell explains. “We mine data, searching for new insights that we can use to fashion programs that will increase shopper satisfaction and drive retail sales. This type of partnership typifies Rich’s commitment to be the trusted first choice for our customers. When traditional purchase behaviors for milestone celebrations like birthdays begin to shift – as we have seen recently – retailers want industry expertise and depth on their side, which we can provide.”

The company’s most-recent examinations of the key purchase drivers for birthday desserts have been exhaustive. Some of the chief areas addressed include:

  • How do parents rank elements of a successful kid’s birthday party and what do they look for in the star attraction, the birthday cake?
  • Who is the in-store bakery’s strongest competitor when it comes to sales of decorated cakes?
  • When and where do parents go for help in planning their children’s birthday parties and why are their trips to buy birthday desserts so special?
  • What are general shopper opinions of decorated cakes purchased at in-store bakeries?
  • Why do some parents bake, instead of buy, the birthday cakes for their kids?

That last question is huge. “Through our research, we had many parents say to us, ‘If it looks like something I could decorate myself, why should I buy it from a store?’” McDonell says. “Frankly, that quote is why we do what we do and it helps point us in the direction of where to dig for more answers in this changing demographic.”

McDonell’s Customer/Shopper Marketing team uses its research to collaborate with Rich’s ISB customers. “Rich’s can partner with bakery operators to create distinctive, creative cake designs that can’t be duplicated at home,” McDonell says. “We’ll work with our customers on product solutions, consumption programs and other marketing tools that help build shopper loyalty. The birthday cake purchase has implications for total store sales, and provides an opportunity to suggestive sell across categories to further increase the size of basket.”

Cakes and icings make up one of the core competencies of Rich Products and serve as a profit center for its customers. The company understands how valuable the birthday party purchase is for grocery retailers, which is why Rich’s has worked determinedly at becoming an industry leader in offering product and program solutions. The Rich’s Customer/Shopper Marketing team plays a key role in that success, researching the marketplace and developing concepts that help customers reach their targets and uncover new growth opportunities.

“It’s all about partnering with our customers on how they can capitalize on trends and evolutions in their business,” McDonell sums up. “Transforming insights into ideas and tools that result in a positive jump in sales for our customers is what makes this work exciting and rewarding”