Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Laure Chatard, director of sales and marketing-North America at Donsuemor, an Alameda, California-based bakery that makes madeleines and other French-inspired desserts like french almond cakes, biscotti and, the latest, sablés.
In this industry, every new year brings new flavors and trends. I can only imagine what’s to come, with ingredients like charcoal shaping the course for 2018. Of course, cyclical trends are nothing new, and just as we can expect annual ingredient and flavor fads to come with the beginning of the year, we can also anticipate diet crazes to disrupt how the public consumes food as well.
From this emerges a question: How can your brand remain relevant amidst these flavor and ingredient fads, short of introducing a dozen SKUs every quarter? Brands that are loved by the public aren’t created by impressive feats of product acrobatics. In fact, these can often deviate the brand from its original promise. In this column I offer my insights on how you can incorporate your brand into trends without changing your product.
Understand where your product fits
Regardless of your product plans for the year or two ahead, it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. By doing so, you’re better placed to understand where there is opportunity within the conversation to position your brand.
There are two types of trends you’ll see emerge. Microtrends burn bright but have a very short life—think flavors or ingredients. These you’ll see emerge at the beginning of every year as chefs experiment.
Extended trends—typically in the form of diets or ingredients—are what is really going to impact your brand in the long term. Analyze these larger trends to divine opportunity where your brand fits in. For example, right now good fat is back, clean labels are important and simple ingredients are ruling. Additionally, people are indulging in comfort foods in small quantities. For my brand, Donsuemor, it makes sense to emphasize this in our messaging, as these are core components to our existing product.
Incorporate trends into your promotional plan
There is opportunity to integrate short-term trends into your more nimble content creation. This year I anticipate tea flavors, florals and cheeses are going to make a big splash, so when I look at Donsuemor, I ask myself how they can enhance my product, without taking away its integrity.
Look at innovative ways to feature your product into those microtrends that are top of mind. For example, maybe these microtrending ingredients can act as a pairing or garnish or fit nicely into a recipe. From there, work with your content teams to identify short-term promotional incorporation. I might publish a blog on my top five favorite toppers for Donsuemor cookies or ask my social team to do a photoshoot of dessert cheeses to enjoy with Donsuemor. You may even be able to get away with a short digital advertising campaign that plays with your product and a microtrend.
Stay true to your brand
It can be easy to lose sight of your product if you’re too busy chasing after the latest trend in public conversation. When we look back retrospectively at the brands that have succeeded over time, it’s those that offer a good, consistent product that people can count on and love. Trends can be a great way to keep your audience engaged and excited about your product, but as you consider how to navigate trends, ask yourself if the trend fits with your overall brand and will be embraced by your audience.
In January 2013 Laure Chatard joined Donsuemor, where she serves as director of sales and oversees a team of three sales and marketing professionals. Chatard has been working in the food industry for more than 10 years and holds an MBA in strategic management from California State University Hayward; she earned her BA in accounting and finance in France.