During the coronavirus crisis in Belgium, it has become abundantly clear that artisan bakers are a key pillar for nutrition and even social contact.
At b²sense, a market research agency specializing in Food Business, we wanted to know more about artisan bakers, such as: How do artisan bakers see themselves? What distinguishes artisan bakers from other bakers? How do they organize their activities? Which sources of information do they consult? Which needs do they have and what are their expectations towards industrial manufacturers?
Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, we conducted 200 online surveys with artisan bakers, representative for Belgium and several in-depth interviews with Flemish artisan bakers.
The market research demonstrated that many artisan bakers in Belgium can be described as enthusiastic, passionate and inventive entrepreneurs, making nearly everything themselves. A total of 7 in 10 artisan bakers regularly renew their product range and, despite any challenges caused by coronavirus restrictions, almost half consider expanding their product and service offer further in the next years.
The majority has invested in their store in the past 3 years to make it as attractive as possible. Aside from having an aesthetically pleasing shop, nowadays 1 in 5 artisan bakers also maintains an online shop (that number increases to 1 in 3 in artisan bakers younger than age 50), which is about twice as high as the average ‘retail’ SME in Belgium.
Consumers’ interest in ingredients is increasing, but most artisan bakers feel ready to answer their questions. Artisan bakers refer to magazines, websites, fairs, their social network and (increasingly among young bakers) social media to stay informed. Sales representatives, however, remain by far the most used source of information.
Kris Smet, Managing Partner of b²sense, added, “Artisan bakers expect industrial manufacturers to inspire them mainly about new products, ingredients and consumer trends (but much less about hygiene measures!). As an expert research agency in Bakery and Food Business, we find it important to connect both the industrial and artisan sides of bakery, which can only be in the benefit of all including of course the end consumer.”