About this module
Now on to one of the key components of your business – what are you planning to serve to customers? If you’re struggling to pin a menu down, this module will walk you through helpful advice and questions to keep in mind when you’re putting it all together. This is an exciting step in your business journey that should be enjoyable and also rewarding to flesh out!
If you seek any business advice, it is always good to know your customers and your market. But in the case of a home baker, taking the time and effort to learn about the culture of your target customers will give you an upper hand in creating a successful product to sell. It will also widen your perspective and improve your customer relationships – all key ingredients to your success.
Culture has a huge influence on how we live our lives. Imagine, if we lived in a different country, if we are single or married, and when we are visiting friends from different cultures and backgrounds – our choices, preferences and habits change.
Similarly, this applies to the eating habits of our customers, and how we plan our menu. The basis of our food choices are taste, health, convenience and price.
To have a clearer view of our customers’ eating habits, let’s take a look at the influence of culture in four main groups – Family and Living Situation, Traditions and Festivities, Food Trends and Dietary Restrictions.
Family and Living Situations play a key role in the choice of food.
For example, working adults would look for a quick and convenient ready-to-eat lunch; whereas a young mother would look for healthy and nutritious bread for her child’s breakfast.
People in different living situations have different priorities and hence, expectations of what the product should offer.
If you can understand the living situation of your key customer groups and identify their priorities, you can design your products to best appeal to them.
Next is Tradition and Festivals, where food is almost always an integral part of the culture.
Fruit Cakes for Christmas, Pineapple Tarts for Chinese New Year, the Assortment of Cookies for Hari Raya and Deepavali, Personalised cakes for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. Festivals are a lucrative period for home bakers as the tradition and culture means customers are more willing to spend on seasonal products and gifts.
Being in such a multicultural country as Malaysia, we have the unique opportunity to know and understand the role of food in diverse cultures and special occasions.
For those who wish to, planning and preparation should start at least 3 months prior to launching the seasonal menu.
Thirdly, Food Trends. We are all familiar with the food trends and eateries that come and go, thanks to a social media post or news article that goes viral. From burnt cheesecake, experimental ice cream flavours.
In contrast, there are also more long lasting product trends such as croissants, tarts, cream puffs and Japanese/Korean desserts, and baking techniques such as Biscoff as an ingredient in cakes and desserts. These long lasting trends are examples that have made their way into our culture.
Speed and Flexibility in production is needed to respond to trends while the trend is still growing.
Lastly, Dietary Restrictions. The list is a long one, from meat-free, dairy-free, sugar free to gluten-free, etc.
These dietary restrictions may be due to religious or health reasons.
Being aware, sensitive and understanding to the reasons and beliefs behind the dietary restrictions of your customers can help you diversify your customer base and increase brand loyalty.
In some cases, providing such products may also place you in a niche market, an opportunity for strongly loyal customers who have little or no options.
With a greater understanding of how culture affects consumer’s needs and demands, we hope this would be able to help you plan your menu and perhaps find a niche market!