Bakery cafés see continued growth.
The bakery café segment, which accounts for $5 billion in annual sales and over 3,600 units nationwide, has been able to successfully navigate the middle ground between quick- and-full service restaurants to outpace industry sales and unit growth for each of the past three years. Total bakery café units increased 4.2 percent, and bakery café sales increased 12 percent during those three years.
A new study by Technomic finds consumers fueling growth in this fast-casual sub-segment by visiting bakery cafés in larger numbers and by becoming frequent customers once they do visit. 71 percent of consumers have now visited a bakery café, up from 43 percent in 2008, and nearly three quarters of those consumers say they visit bakery café concepts at least once a month.
In addition, Technomic data indicates room for more variety on bakery café breakfast menus. A third of consumers (34 percent) strongly agree that they would visit bakery cafés more often for breakfast if their menus offered a wider variety of breakfast items.
The service element seems to be particularly important to users of bakery cafés. Three in four consumers (75 percent) report that the quality of service is very important when deciding which bakery café to visit, and about two-thirds (66 percent) consider the speed of service to be very important.
Wraps and sandwiches featuring artisanal breads are a primary focus of bakery café's menu positioning. A look at the most prevalent bread types for lunch and dinner sandwiches shows tortillas as the most-frequently mentioned sandwich bread, at 11.7 percent. Focaccia, positioned as a European-style artisan bread variety, ranks second (9.1 percent). Ciabatta, sourdough and pumpernickel have all increased significantly on bakery café menus since 2008.
Panera Bread is the clear leader in the segment, and has further strengthened its position in the bakery café arena over the past few years. About seven in 10 consumers polled (69 percent) visit and purchase food from the chain at least occasionally, and among Panera's visitors, 69 percent go at least monthly.