NEW YORK — A major new product initiative from Flowers Foods, Inc. described as “everyday artisan” bread aimed at the millennial generation was previewed March 24 in a presentation by a top company executive in New York.
During an annual analyst day event at the New York Stock Exchange, Bradley K. Alexander described what he called a “new concept and a new brand” that will be targeted toward a younger generation. Mr. Alexander is president of Flowers Bakeries/D.S.D. Segment. As described, the brand will feature a line of bread, buns and rolls; will be geared toward sandwich making; will feature distinctive packaging; and will use social media in different ways to connect with a new generation of consumers.
Dubbed Cobblestone Bread Co., the name is similar to Cobblestone Mill, which has been Flowers’ principal super premium brand for decades.
Prefacing his comments about Cobblestone Bread Co., Mr. Alexander said new product introductions have been and will remain important to Flowers’ business, emphasizing the importance to the company of launches that are grounded in research gathered from focus groups and developing “new products that fit with new trends” and respond to different segments. The comments served as a backdrop for Mr. Alexander’s discussion of millennials and Cobblestone Bread Co., the only new product introduction highlighted in his presentation.
He went on to note both how large the millennial generation has become and how important it is as a consumer segment.
“Research shows that millennials, a new and different demographic group, think a little differently about certain things,” he said. “Born between 1982 and 2000, millennials represent (a major part) of the U.S. population and nearly 80 million individuals. This year, they will account for over half of all U.S. workers. By 2018, they will represent 30% of all retail sales in America. Sixty three per cent of millennials use social media to stay updated on their favorite brands, and half of them are accustomed to using mobile technology while they shop. Millennials are eating more meals at home. They enjoy cooking and want to learn more about preparing meals. They are adventurous and crave variety.
“I also want to mention one other fact. Sandwiches represent the No. 1 eating occasion with consumers because they are convenient, portable, economical and versatile. With millennials in mind and recognizing that sandwiches are part of so many of our meals, we have developed a new concept and a new brand that we will launch later this year. Cobblestone Bread Co. is the brand.”
Explaining how the Cobblestone is intended to “bring excitement to the category,” Mr. Alexander showed a 2.5-minute video slideshow of a young woman describing how she discovered the new brand.
“The other day some friends and I went to an amazing restaurant everyone was talking about on-line,” the woman said. “It was really cool. We all ordered something a little unique from the restaurant’s creative menu.”
One friend ordered a Reuben, another a turkey burger, a third ordered a bison burger, she said, “and me, I got the most amazing sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. Thinly sliced ham, Gruyere cheese, and this delicious Dijon cheese sauce. What really made the sandwich all come together was bread. Oh, bread. Soft and chewy white bread that was just out of this world.
“Yesterday, when I was at the store shopping for the party I’m having this weekend, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that incredible sandwich. I wandered over to the bread aisle thinking, if I could just find the right kind of bread, maybe, just maybe, I could actually pull this sandwich off.
“I knew none of my usual bread choices would be quite special enough to recreate the delicious taste I was looking for. But as I turned the corner, something new caught my eye. Something called the Cobblestone Bread Co. I was curious. The new packaging was really striking. Different from the other bread I’ve seen. And as I picked it up to check it out, I noticed something really cool. Not only was there an amazing looking sandwich on the back, but there was a short little code I could text for a ton of other great recipe ideas. One of them sounded almost exactly like the sandwich I was looking for. How awesome is that? It even had a shopping list of the ingredients I need to make each of the specialty sandwiches.”
She went on to finish her shopping, buying the ham, cheese and some Dijon mustard.
“When I was at the checkout counter, I couldn’t stop smiling just thinking about how impressed my friends were going to be and how much they were going to love the sandwich,” the woman said. “And boy did they ever. Not only was the sandwich as amazing as that night at the restaurant, but I was a hero for sharing my amazing food find.”
The video concluded with a narrator describing Cobblestone Bread Co. as “committed to providing sandwich lovers with great sandwich inspirations and the bread, buns and rolls that bring them to life,” adding the tagline, “the cure for the sandwich rut.”
Mr. Alexander said Flowers will use its food service expertise to help millennials satisfy their interest “in exploring unique flavors.” He said the company will “bring chef inspired recipes together with our premium specialty breads.” He categorized the product line as “everyday artisan.” The slide deck accompanying his presentation indicated the line will feature 12 core items supplemented by “regional favorites.” A full market roll-out is planned for mid-2012.
“Cobblestone Bread Co. embraces all lifestyles to enjoy flavorful bread sandwiches that will help consumers with simple recipes and on pack shopping lists for each item in the line,” Mr. Alexander said. “Also on trend will be mobile friendly how to videos and access to other recipes and support. We are catering to a generation that wants to do more than make a plain sandwich. They want easy access to the tools and knowledge that helps them achieve a similar experience they can find at their favorite sandwich shop. So we’ll keep you posted on Cobblestone Bread Co. as the line rolls out.”
Mr. Alexander also offered an update on Flowers’ plans to reopen certain Hostess baking plants while selling others. Allen L. Shiver, chairman and chief executive officer of Flowers, offered an update of Flowers’ goals for the years ahead. He said the company hopes to reach at least 90% of the U.S. population with its direct-store delivery routes by 2018 and to achieve market shares of 20% and 12% in the bread and cake categories, respectively.
Further coverage of the presentations will be published on bakingbusiness.com.