Baking a StormEvolving the baking category

For decades the baking category in our major supermarkets have been the same. Flour segmentation was only done by plain, self-raising or some specialty bread flour. Working at Anchor Foods gave me the opportunity to bring some change to this category and range new skus nationally through Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

Working with such a conservative category with a brief of innovation is always hard as there are some key limitations

  • Price sensitive:

    The grocery commodity market is very price conscious. Flour prices have not changed in years and adding a new SKU in this category need to add value for it to be profitable for both the manufacturer and the retailer.

  • Consumer’s are set in their ways

    When a grocery shopper is in the flour aisle he is looking for basic baking ingredients. She does not want a “too easy” baking mix. She is an avid and skilled baker who enjoys baking and wants to feel like she is doing most of the work.

  • Small window:

    The baking Category is made of 2 main section the flour category and the baking mixed category. The flour category is made up of the baking basics and the cake mix category is an over crowded section full of duplicates and long standing brands.

The challenge is to bring new ideas and products to the Baking Category wither in the flour section or the baking Mixes section. There is only one category review per year with Coles and Woolworths and we only had 2 months to come up a solution.

  • Category Review:

    To better understand consumer and retailer behaviour, I embarked on a 3 year category review in this category. Going through the analytics of the past 3 years showed that there was a reluctance to delete skus in the baking mixes brands such as Betty Crocker, White Wings and Greens in spite of some obvious duplication. This meant that they had strong brand loyalty. Another main factor was that celebrity chefs and own brands were penetrating this sector in full force and had the flexibility unlike Anchor Foods to take major risks on baking fads. On the opposite side in the flour section, there were multiple facing of the same same old products either self-raising flour or plain flour and a small section of base mixed that barely changed. The point of penetration to the market was clear it had to be in the less busy area but with what?

  • Category focus:

    With hundreds of SKUs to choose from the retailers are looking for products that consumers empathise with and need more than want! Lighthouse already introduced Specialty Flour to the Flour Category a few years before I joined. Flour is flour at the end of the day and nothing new will come out of this baking commodity unless we invest in Gluten Free. But with Anchor Foods being solely wheat based flour products, Gluten Free would require major operational and even infrastructure changes in the factory. Not an easy fix. The only thing left were the Base Mixes.

  • Give them what they want:

    As a working mum who bakes at least 2-3 times a month, it struck me that the main thing that would push me to bakes were old bananas. And as I was baking my banana bread that Sunday, I wondered if there was no base mix out there that would make my life easier. And boom that was the missing range in this category. The next day I started looking online for most searched recipes on google and it confirmed my idea. It was Quick breads mainly banana bread. So I started putting together a range of Quickbreads including a Banana QuickBread, An Oats & Fruits QuickBread and a savoury Cheese QuickBreads.

With a strong rationale and compelling consumer insight on the “busy mums”, we presented the products and pricing strategy to Woolworth’s category buyers in the next month and we were in business:

  • Exclusive distribution deal:

    Quickbreads was a new sub-category for the Baking Category. The evidence was clear people are baking quick and easy recipes that they can easily customised. Now it was only about who was going to bring it to market first Coles or Woolworths and we made this very clear in the presentation. It was too good to pass as an offer and the pricing was spot on so Woolies gave us exclusivity to launch the range for one year and we took it!

  • 3 new SKUS in the Flour Sub-Category:

    The conservative flour category was hardly changes in decades and we were given 3 new SKUs position in this section. The Banana QuickBread, The Oats & Fruit QuickBread and The Savoury Cheese and Chives Quickbread. All of these came with customisation ideas for bakers.

  • Launching with a bang!

    We only had 3 months to organise line trial and full production and launch the new QuickBread range with a BANG! With print ads and a facebook campaign through the Bakemyown Lighthouse page we introduce this new concept of creative baking to the consumers and the sales picked up really quickly.

“Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.” – David Brooks

This is Deena to a tee, a professional with self belief and the edge to make great ideas happen. I would suggest another unique skill of Deena’s is the ability to read the moment, interpret and distill it to a usable hook, in order to pass on the message.

Mark Kailis
Managing Director, Kailis Organic Olive Groves

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