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Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

Stop loafing around - what brands can learn from this year's Great British Bake Off

In the past seven years, the Great British Bake Off has become a national institution, attracting around 13 million viewers per episode. And, as the dust settles on its final series with the BBC, its interesting to see how much the show has influenced the UK's consumers and impacted the baking category.

What brands can learn from Bake Off

The analysis, that we did through our marketing intelligence platform Forecaster, found that online searches for baking products have risen by 17% since the start of the show, peaking on Sunday 25 September, just after pastry week. This is indicative of a sharp increase in the number of people getting into the kitchen and baking as a result of the Bake Off. This is also supported by the spike in searches for recipes used on the show; searches for Jaffa Cakes spiked by 900% and Viennese Whirls by 2000% after they were featured, as people tried the recipe out in their spare time.

But what impact has this had on the bottom line?

Data reveals that the show’s mixer of choice, KitchenAid has seen a 150% boost in sales throughout the course of the show, compared to just 40% seen by rival mixer KenwoodKMix, that was featured on the show last year. Sales of muffin trays have been growing by 17% week on week, and sales of digital timers have increased by 63%. Other equipment saw bursts of interest following certain shows – searches for proving draws shot up by 7,500% after bread week, and mixing bowls saw a boost in the second week of the show, with sales growing by 14%.

We have also seen a number of brands react as a result; Morrisons created the new role of a ‘Bake Officer’ to watch episodes and stock each store accordingly, while Kenwood claims to have started planning its campaign in 2015, getting retail partners on board with in-store and online signage to coincide with the beginning of GBBO season – which clearly paid off.

Last year, Tesco cut through the noise with its social campaign, which included six recipe tutorials and five social gifs. The result was a 14% increase in Facebook video views, and a 7% uplift in perception of Tesco as a helpful brand.

Clearly, big TV shows like Bake Off have a huge impact on consumer confidence and behaviour and can offer a golden opportunity for brands and retailers. Here’s some easy to apply insight on how to make sure you get ahead when TV fever strikes.

Know the show

Different shows will see varying levels of demand, depending on their popularity. Broad sports tournaments with high viewing figures, such as the Euros or World Cup, for example will see an increase in demand across several categories, from electricals to garden furniture. During more niche programmes, such as Masterchef, brands can also expect to see an impact across smaller cooking-related categories.

This might seem somewhat obvious, but the trick for brands is being able to identify when demand changes and by how much. Only then will you be able to quantify the opportunity and pursue it.

Assess the upcoming show and look back at past shows for a similar case study. Past customer behaviour is the best indicator of what will happen in the future and why. That way, brands can understand how and when customer behaviour might develop and change in the future. This will then allow them to make recommendations to raise marketing above average at specific moments during the show that they can be confident will result in more sales sales.

Peaks and troughs

Using the example of the Euros, demand for products such as TVs and garden furniture increase by up to 10% in the weeks before the tournament starts.

Customers will begin their research and purchase with the aim of having their TV up and running in time for the start of the tournament. This means that those who may have wanted to buy a new TV in July, then decided to purchase one sooner, in May or June, so they could watch the football on their brand new TV. Similarly, demand for garden furniture increases before the tournament starts so customers can be ready to entertain guests when the action is underway.

Some categories will receive more impact than others. Brands can agree and set various hypotheses outlining the categories they expect to be impacted the most during a big programme. By analysing historical customer data, retailers can identify how the up and coming event might impact their customers in the future.

Look beyond the show time

While some people will use their smartphones to look up products during show time, Bake Off related products actually saw the biggest peaks over the weekend, as people could spend more time making the bakes for friends and family. While people are often active on social media during the show, when it comes to making purchases, brands must look at daily and weekly trends in data to identify when the customer journey starts with product awareness and consideration and when the journey ends with the all-important conversion.

Martin Corcoran is head of insight consulting at online retail specialists Summit

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