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From 'chief bake officers' to ad campaigns planned 12-months out – how brands are taking a slice of The Great British Bake Off effect

Great British Bake Off

As the Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this week, a raft of brands are readying what will be their most important marketing push of the year. For some, the 11-week programme on BBC One – which attracts between 12 and 14 million viewers – will do more for the bottom line than Christmas or Easter and with that has come the creation of job titles such as “chief bake officer” and the roll out of marketing campaigns that have been planned over a year in advance.

However trivial this may seem figures back up such plans, revealing that sales of baking-related products will undoubtedly rocket in the coming the months.

According to retail agency Summit, the number of baking products sold during last year’s Bake Off season increased by 214 per cent in comparison to the weeks prior to the show.

It’s little surprise then that marketers are keen to get a thick slice of the 'Bake Off-effect'.

Kenwood is one such brand which has benefited. Alex Pickering, marketing director UK and Ireland, at Kenwood told The Drum that “unquestionably" there is a clear growth in the sale of its kitchenware products, such as stand mixers, that can be clearly linked back to the start of the Great British Bake Off.

“We have seen consumers uploading recipes through our Facebook site through to a greater interest in store. Looked at over the last six-year period, sales of stand mixers have doubled," he said.

But last year marked a turning point in how seriously it takes the programme when the long-used KitchenAid mixers were replaced with its kMix model. Interest in KitchenAids mixer has since dropped by 14 per cent and Kenwood is looking to take advantage.

Its 'Bake Off 2016' planning began twelve months in advance as it sought to get key retail partners on board with instore and online signage, “theatre” and visuals to leverage the spike in interest for all things baking. Meanwhile, an ad campaign dubbed ‘My Chef’ will run until the end of the year to show the “versatility” of its mixers for both savoury food prep and baking.

“The ‘My Chef’ campaign is a definite example of a stronger conversion focus. We typically find that awareness is already very high,” added Pickering.

Elsewhere, supermarkets will be among the main beneficiaries of people trying to recreate bakes they see on screen and working out which products it will need to stock up on after each episode is key remit for buyers.

Last year, sales of glacé cherries, crystallised ginger and ground almonds all soared into treble figures while demand for the obscure Peruvian fruit ‘goldenberries’ leapt 180 per cent.

Morrisons has gone as far as appointing its first “bake officer” to try stay ahead of the game. Anastasia Duncanson, a buyer for the grocer, will watch each episode to predict the trends likely to catch on and stock each store accordingly.

"Some of the trends I expect to see are metallic frosting, edible glitter and 'cake lace' effects, as well as gravity-defying cakes, which use special equipment," she said.

Meanwhile Waitrose’s baking buyer Tim Shaw revealed that the two-months of the Great British Bake Off are the third most important event of the year, just behind Easter and Christmas, especially as the value of sales is up some 392 per cent during that period.

Like Morrison's - despite all of the technology it uses on a daily basis to predict trends - much of its Great British Bake Off strategy will come down to watching the show alongside everyone else and going into guerrilla marketing mode.

But Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry (pictured) have dropped one insider secret, 'tea-infused baby-cakes' will be a trend this year...

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is deputy news editor at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in the retail and FMCG sectors. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

All by Jennifer