The aroma of fresh-baked goods rises straight up in the air

News Innovation was in focus during the annual Cereal Day. The results from the project “Value adding in the grain sector through open innovation” were presented, and there was much interest in both the specific business opportunities and the general insights.


Innovation was in focus during the annual Cereal Day. The results from the project “Value adding in the grain sector through open innovation” were presented, and there was much interest in both the specific business opportunities and the general insights.

Professional expertise in cereals and bakery goods as well as knowledge of consumers and their purchase patterns constituted the framework of the innovation project that was led by Camilla Grefsli, advisor at Nofima.

Focus on consumers
Observational studies and interviews, both domestically and abroad, were used to gain insight into the current situation and the consumers’ wants and needs. Insights from this project were e.g. that no one buys gifts at the baker’s, that consumers in Bizarro World freeze fresh bread, and that the aroma of fresh-baked goods rises straight up in the air.

This latter insight highlights the fact that bakeries do not exploit the potential of aroma. When a baker works at night, the aroma of fresh-baked goods rises straight up in the air; service stations, on the other hand, place their ovens right next to the counter so that customers get a whiff of the aroma, thereby increasing sales.

“There’s something paradoxical about the fact that you can buy fresh buns at Shell but not at the baker’s,” says advisor Britt Signe Granli. “Almost everyone in Norway has heard about Espa buns, but no baker has branded his goods in a similar way.”

What ideas can such an insight inspire? Perhaps a bakery could make the transition to being more of a delicatessen, or offer “bucket dough”, or perhaps use a bakery automat?

Such insights are meant to form the basis for platforms that can inspire a host of ideas, and several insights and observations are used to support both the platforms and the ideas.

The ten specific business opportunities
Straight from work
Employees can order bread while at work and then pick up the bread when the work day is over. The daily delivery of bread to lunch rooms can be expanded with an order system for the employees. This idea covers the consumers’ need for fresh bread every day without them having to go to the store, and they can thereby save time and get home quicker.

The baker’s assortment can be expanded with goods that complement bread and other bakery goods, so that the bakery becomes both a store and a place of service that customers frequent to find local gourmet products. The consumers are often tired of shopping in boring grocery stores, but currently the assortment at bakeries is too limited for people to bother to drop in. Furthermore, there are many people who like informal eateries with good food.

Bake talk
Make baking fun by using both traditional and social media, producing TV programmes, creating celebrity bakers, and combining education and entertainment. Many people are very interested in making food – including baking, even though for the moment this is lagging somewhat behind. In addition, people like to learn new things in a fun way.

Brittle bread
This is a whole new product line that can compete with crispbread, flatbrød (wafer-thin crispbread), and sandwich crackers. The products are modern, crisp, healthy, and delicious. Many consumers think Wasa crispbread is boring and are hoping for innovations on this front. And not least, people want something in their cupboard that is tasty and healthy.

School lunch-boxes
Lunch-boxes can be delivered to schools, with the lunch-boxes containing a healthy lunch that the kids are enthusiastic about. The set-up is that the parents sign up for a subscription for a school year, in the same way as for the School Milk scheme. Many parents do not have the time to pack lunch, and such home-made lunches are not as popular as before. Furthermore, many kids do not eat a healthy lunch and suffer therefore from poor concentration and a lack of energy during the school day.

DIY breakfast kit
This is a cylindrical DIY kit with a choice of cereal grains and various toppings where one merely adds warm water, milk, or yoghurt. This is a simple, healthy, and satisfying meal that is portable and that give one the opportunity to have porridge/cereal for breakfast, lunch, or supper without spending time on making food. It can be consumed on the go without a mess, and the consumers can choose their preferred taste combinations.

DIY cake kit
Professional confectioners assemble the DIY kit, but the customers crown the work with their personal touch.The DIY kit contains cake layers, cream filling, and a set of decorations, as well as recipes and clever tricks from the confectioner. The consumers get a sense of being able to create a cake with a “WOW!” factor, and thereby experience the pride of offering a cake they themselves have finished.

Cake gift
This is a handsome gift basket with many freshly made taste treats, which might become as natural a gift choice as chocolates, wine, and flowers – because we need alternatives to chocolates, wine, and flowers. Many people have a need to give something that looks nice, that they can trust is of high-quality, and that they know the recipient will enjoy.

Bucket dough
This is a basis dough for white or wholemeal bakery products that only has to be rolled out and placed in the oven, and consumers can choose individual toppings or other forms of personalization. Consumers want to bake for themselves, smell the aroma of baking in their homes, and get fresh bread, but they seldom have time to start from scratch – kneading dough is heavy work and something that many people would rather avoid doing. Bucket dough also allows consumers to add their own personal touch to the bread.

Bakery automat
Such a bakery automat can be placed in areas that people frequent, providing warm rolls, buns, and pizza within 3 minutes – all day long. Good food-on-the-go products are needed, and consumers want fresh-baked goods at their own convenience. The bakery automat also makes it fun to shop at an automat.

The next step

It is difficult for new products to succeed in grocery stores. Only one in ten products survives for more than three years.

“The problem with innovation is not the lack of ideas, but an inability to implement those ideas. Innovation consists of two main phases. The first and relatively easy phase is to develop new business opportunities, and the second and more important phase is  to implement the new business opportunities. The business opportunities that are presented here today represent the first phase in the innovation process.” These words of wisdom are from the presentation “Implementing Innovations” by Geir Håbesland. He runs the firm Brandgarden and collaborates closely with Nofima on several innovation projects.

One way of implementing innovations is to take small steps at a time and proceed by experimentation. The purpose of each step is to learn as much as possible, with each single experiment having a plan of its own. You plan the experiment, create a hypothesis for cause and effect, carry out the experiment, take measurements and make notes, and finally compare the hypothesis with the result.

“That is an inexpensive way to experiment and get consumer feedback prior to market release. A lot can be saved by conducting such pre-release pilot experiments, since today roughly 9 out of 10 grocery innovations will fail,” says Geir Håbesland.

Is Straight From Work feasible?
Among the ten business opportunities that resulted from the project, the Straight From Work concept was taken to the experimentation phase.

The concept of Straight From Work was developed on the premise that it could simplify everyday life for working people. If it is only bread that you need, you will not have to drop by a store. Another consumer wish is for fresh bread every day without having to go to the store.

“We have tested this concept on Nofima employees, and studied for instance whether sales were affected when bread could be bought on impulse or by subscription,” explained Senior Advisor Åshild Longva at Nofima.

It turned out that half of the employees bought bread, and that around half of those who bought bread did so several times in the trial period. Some bought bread every day, and those who bought bread most frequently were employees with children. Furthermore, more people bought on impulse than those who took out a subscription. An experiment of selling cake – on Valentine’s Day – led to a far greater turnover than expected.

“The trial period provided much useful information,” Longva says, before listing the most important conclusions:
• The bread MUST be near the exit
• Many wanted more exclusive breads
• More people notice the price when they buy bread from work than in a store
• Some wanted impulsive buys, others want subscriptions
• The option to cancel a subscription must be simple
• It is important with a thorough introduction well in advance

“Further testing remains in order to ensure that the business opportunity is as desired. An additional bonus to this idea is that it provides good opportunities for cooperation between the individual bakeries,” Åshild Longva concludes.

Consumer and sensory sciences   Raw materials and process optimisation  

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