Dawn Foods produce mixes, bases and finished baked foods for in-store bakeries and retail bakeries.

Baking & Snack

Joanie Spencer: There’s a relationship between health-and-wellness and indulgence. How are these two types of foods sustaining each other? How are trends from Dawn’s research helping them do so?

Ms. Jones-Barber:

Carrie Jones-Barber is the chief executive officer of Dawn Foods.

When balancing health and wellness with indulgence, how can you market one product to meet both needs? How can one product meet a specific need based on the consumer’s mindset?

Ms. Jones-Barber:

Dawn's R.&D. team uses customer insights to develop products that appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Consumer preferences change so fast; it’s been on everyone’s radar thanks to modern technology. Dawn’s research team is on top of trend watching, so how are they keeping up … and staying ahead?

Ms. Jones-Barber:

Dawn Foods adds different varieties of sugar to its churros to keep the product on-trend.

How does Dawn leverage trends insight and R.&D. expertise to market finished baked foods? 

Ms. Jones-Barber: We start with the consumers. What are they looking for? Then, we incorporate that into our offerings and help share with our customers. For items like brownies, a great way to do that is with the add-ins and added texture. 

At Christmas, we do a peppermint brownie where we actually crush up peppermint sticks and put it in. It’s a fantastic flavor, it adds eye appeal and it adds crunch … and you can just keep going with it. You can add a chocolate drizzle on top of it. But I don’t come up with those ideas. It’s the global market research and insights team — they are the link between marketing and the bakery. It’s the bakery knowledge and expertise. Marketing can come up with the idea, but R.&D. and our technical staff determine if it’s scalable. It’s that collaboration that makes a difference.

Let’s talk about the Innovation Studio. Why did you develop it, and what’s it doing for product innovation?

Ms. Jones-Barber: The Innovation Studio is a test kitchen-like environment where we co-create with customers to help them ideate on product ideas on a small scale and allows them to see if an idea is even possible before preparing it to scale. We work with our customers every step of the way to see what works, and, if we need to, we can go back to the drawing board.

We recently brought a customer — a pizza company that wanted to add a brownie to their menu — into the Innovation Studio. At the start of the day, we knew the customer was unclear on the direction they wanted to take with their brownie offering, but in one day, they walked out of the studio with a completely new menu item. Following consumer testing, the customer found that the recipe we created was exactly what they were looking for. Even with a couple iterations after leaving the studio, it was a much faster process than they were used to. We brought creativity — and because we had the production staff onsite — we were quickly able to guide the customer through the process.

The whole purpose of the Innovation Studio is to partner with our customers. Since opening one year ago, we’ve had more than 20 customers come through to experience it firsthand.

We know — and we did a lot of research on this — that if you can bring customers to a third location, they don’t get distracted. And when you bring your experts from marketing and R.&D., then it’s ideation. We have 11 stations in the studio to ensure the team can work on many different items at one time. It also means that we can be trying out two or three variations of a product simultaneously and scaling them up and trying them right there. 

It was, at the most basic level, a way of improving speed to market for our customers. 

Customization and personalization are gaining momentum. How do Dawn products create customized solutions?

Ms. Jones-Barber: