Outside-the-box flavors

Flavors are an easy way to spur consumers to purchase. New flavors and varieties cut through the noise and grab shoppers’ attention. Even louder are the limited-edition varieties, which are a safe way to shake things up.

“In general, what people are looking for with breakfast is something that can help break their routine,” Mr. Swain said. “They’re looking for new and interesting flavors. They want a breakfast that they can count on and something a little different than their standard routine.”

To deliver that, Thomas’ Bagels introduces limited-time-only flavors about every 13 weeks, and these are often scheduled based on seasonal relevance. The brand has seen success with Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, Maple French Toast and Banana Bread, among others.

“The Plain, Blueberry, Everything, Cinnamon-Raisin — those are our big movers,” Mr. Swain said. “But we like to bring some news to the shelf and to the category, and that’s what we’re trying to do with our business.”

This steady rotation of flavors gives consumers an extra expectation to their shopping experience, what Mr. Swain called a “treasure hunt.” This prompts consumers to return to the bagel shelf more often than they usually would to see what’s new and interesting.

For National Bagel Day, Thomas’ Bagels introduced a flavor chosen by its Facebook fans. The overwhelming favorite was Lemon Blueberry, which launched Feb. 8. This limited-edition flavor will have a shorter run than most, being on shelves for only six weeks, but Mr. Swain said the company is excited to bring this interesting flavor to market.
Thomas' recently launched Lemon Blueberry bagels.

For other limited-edition styles, Mr. Swain said the brand often draws on the idea of home-baking to guide product development.

“We try to bring forward something that people might think they’re making at home,” he said. “It’s new and different and not something they’re going to necessarily find in the traditional bagel shop.”