CARMEL, Ind. -- Four months into a promotion for "baked while you wait" bread, O'Malia Food Markets here is moving over 1,000 loaves a week total to its seven stores.
Before the promotion -- covering "hot and crusty" French and Italian breads -- was launched, distribution to the seven stores totaled less than 100 loaves a week, said Ron Williams, director of bakery operations for O'Malia.
Williams spoke about the program during a presentation to members of the Indiana Retail Grocers Association at the group's annual convention. He divulged more information about the success of the bread program to SN in an interview after the presentation.
Customers, upon entering a store, place an order for bread from the bakery department. Consumers also have the option of ordering bread beforehand via fax or phone. Immediately, bakery personnel begin baking the custom loaf of par-baked frozen dough, with a completion time of 15 minutes.
"It has been fantastic for us," said Williams, "and may lead to something else. For example, it doesn't take very long to bake a chocolate chip cookie."
The program includes a large French Parisien loaf, that retails for $1.49; the Italian loaf, for $1.39; and the small French Batard, retailing for $1.19. Hours of service are between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The bread available through the program is never on display, Williams told the group. "When the baking is finished, we take the loaf out into the store and find a customer."
The program, he said, is a good example of how a unique promotion can be more effective than a price-oriented promotion. "Somebody can always beat you on price. Establish a fair price for your products based on quality. The independent retail bakers get an adequate price for their merchandise. They have the quality -- and are not afraid to charge for it."
Instead of hot prices, Williams suggested an array of promotions ranging from bonus sizes to free gifts. He also lauded vendor partnerships such as the firm's tie-in with Pillsbury.
"Giving away a free Pillsbury Dough Boy doll with purchase of a chocolate cream cake was very successful for us. Our contract with Pillsbury has been fabulous. We will do it as long as we can."
One of the stipulations with Pillsbury is that O'Malia, on its packaging, notes that the product contains ingredients from that manufacturer.
"Watch what is hot with kids," the speaker also pointed out. Putting a Power Ranger toy or trading card in with a 4-count muffin pack, enhances sales of muffins. Or, purchase a 24-count package of cookies, and receive free a package of baseball, football or basketball cards. The gifts are inside the dome packaging used for the product.
Product tie-ins usually work well -- such as one in which a free 2-liter soft drink was given free with purchase of a bakery pizza. "We sold more pizza than ever before," said Williams.
Each year, O'Malia puts on a January "white sale" featuring bakery products that tie in with the idea of a white product.
"If the department stores can do it, bakeries can do it," Williams told the group. Examples: White homestyle bread, sugar cookies, white iced cake doughnuts and angel food cakes.
"Use your label to sell product," Williams told the audience. "Include in your labeling ideas that your customers can use to enjoy your products in ways they never thought of such as a cinnamon bread or raisin bread label which includes the statement 'for the best French toast ever, follow the recipe below.' "