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Associate Partner Michelle Tartalio Discusses Supermarket Trends

Clarkston Consulting associate partner Michelle Tartalio was interviewed on emerging supermarket trends, with a specific focus on baked goods and bakery customization. An excerpt from the article is below.

Batter Up | June 1, 2018

It wasn’t long ago that the extent of in-store bakery customization meant writing a name on a birthday cake. Today, however, supermarkets are increasingly realizing profits and a competitive edge from providing shoppers a broad range of options in flavors, shapes, sizes, colors and more.

A 2017 study from Deloitte found that more than half of millennial consumers would pay more for a personalized product—something a number of foodservice channels outside of grocery can’t provide, according to Michelle Tartalio, associate partner at Durham, North Carolina-based product advisory firm Clarkston Consulting.

In fact, the ability to customize desserts—from infusing a cupcake with the Earl Grey tea flavors to shaping and decorating a cake to look like a customer’s pet—helps bring shoppers into the store, and places traditional retailers ahead of the competition.

“The best way to create loyalty and build a relationship with the customer is to give them something unique,” says Sara Vanderheyden, head cake designer at Hy-Vee’s Ankeny Prairie Trail store in Iowa.

Get Creative with In-Store Bakery Customization

When Vanderheyden joined the Midwestern grocery store chain in 2000, consumers didn’t have many ways to find wedding cake ideas. Today, however, social media provides ample inspiration.

“People come in with Pinterest boards with at least 50 photos of cakes,” Vanderheyden says.

In addition to serving as a source for custom dessert inspiration, social media is a place where consumers share details about their lives with family and friends, says Tartalio.

“People want to post memories in the best possible light, having specific bakery items that are unique,” she says. “They don’t want to throw the same birthday party as their neighbor.”

To meet shoppers’ expectations for customization, Hy-Vee gives individual locations the autonomy to create highly specialized items. Vanderheyden’s store, for example, uses an edible image printer to replicate customer-provided photos on cakes. Bakery staff have also made desserts with items pulled from store shelves—like customers’ favorite candy bars—and fresh fruit from the produce section.

To view the full article, visit Batter Up’s original publication here.