- The baking industry is struggling to turn around sales declines as the demand for healthier, less processed foods and convenient, on-the-go treats misalign with products like baking mixes and refrigerated dough.
- Baking mix sales decreased 6.4% in 2015, following a 4.6% drop the previous year, according to IRI. For category leader General Mills, its baking business, which includes Betty Crocker baking mixes, Pillsbury refrigerated dough, and Toaster Strudel, saw sales decline 6% in its last fiscal year.
- However, General Mills was able to stabilize sales declines to a degree in the past six months, with its baking business' sales falling only 1% from a year ago. General Mills attributes the turnaround in part to lowering prices to match its competitors.
The key for baking mix companies is to tap into the experiential factor and emphasize the nostalgia and good feelings associated with at-home baking, which makes the experience worth the additional time it takes to prepare. This comes through marketing the products with this message in direct advertisements, but it also means supplementing that message by teaching consumers how to use the company's baking products in new ways.
General Mills has invested in its online recipe resources, like BettyCrocker.com and Betty Crocker YouTube recipe videos, and this past holiday season, the company ran the "24 Days of Cookies" campaign, where a half-million subscribers received a new recipe every day for 24 days.
These strategies are important for standing out in a competitive baking mixes industry as more startups and smaller baking companies fight for shelf space at traditional grocery and natural foods stores. Companies like Simple Mills are using simpler, natural ingredients lists to stand apart from major brands like Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, and Pillsbury, as has been the case for categories throughout the industry.
But these up-and-coming companies haven't made a dent just yet, and instead, the primary players in the baking mixes industry have for now focused on each other by competing on strategies like pricing to stay relevant.