The snack aisle currently is filled with floral flavors, earthy spices such as turmeric, sweet exotic fruits, such as mango, and all things coconut – including flour, sugar and oil – but it is hard to know how long these trends will captivate consumers, Laure Chatard, director of sales and marketing in North America for Donsuemor, told FoodNavigator-USA.
This makes it hard to know if the company can recoup a sufficient return to justify the investment in creating a trendy product, she explained.
Plus, she said, in Donsuemor’s more than 40 years of experience making Madeleines and other French desserts, the company has found that most consumers prefer high quality to something on-trend that was created quickly without the same high standards.
“It would be really easy for us to come out with new flavors like Earl Gray, Lavender, Lemon or like a Mango Turmeric Madeleine because we are always baking,” she said. “But what we have noticed throughout the years is that people have come to expect us to have the very best Madeleines out there, and they are looking for the same experience every time.”
As such, she added, most people gravitate towards the classics, including the company’s original recipe developed in the 1970s, a chocolate dipped option and a Lemon Zest.
“When you know your best sellers are out there,” and that consumers will continue to favor them even if other newer and flashier options are available, the case for launching seasonal flavors or of-the-moment options is harder to make, Chatard said. The outlier, of course, being pumpkin spice, which is a perennial favorite that only seems to gain more consumer affection each year, she acknowledged.
Keeping the classics relevant
So rather than chase the trends with new, Donsuemor stays relevant to consumers by staying true to its own values of high quality ingredients and simple, authentic recipes with ingredients that consumers can recognize – all of which are on-trend values that have demonstrated staying-power, Chatard says.
But this doesn’t mean Donsuemor ignores emerging trends – quiet the contrary, Chatard said. She explains the company follows consumer interests closely and looks for ways to fit its existing line into the larger trends.
One way it does this is by sharing recipes and decorating ideas that allow consumers to customize its cookies with on-trend flavored icings or dips, Chatard said. She noted the company's Pinterest page is full of ideas for incorporating its traditional treats into modern living through no bake desserts or after school snacks.
For example, Chatard said, the company often hosts competitions for the most creative use of its Madeleines for Halloween treats, holiday desserts or summer get-togethers.
“We try to innovate and come up new ways of using our cookies, and people have come up with really cool looking desserts,” Chatard said, noting as an example a mermaid-themed shower that used Madeleines as the scales on the mermaid tail.
The company also has tapped into other macro-trends, such as snacking and demand for on-the-go options, by simply tweaking its packaging, rather than the actual product, Chatard said.
For example, Donsuemor sells its cookies individually wrapped in large cases – making it easy to add them to lunchboxes or briefcases. The individual packages also allow the brand to meet consumer demand for portion control and for a way to incorporate indulgence into a healthy lifestyle, she said.
While these strategies might not be as flashy as a new product launch, they work as illustrated by Donsuemor’s more than 40 years in a competitive market where many startups fail within the first two years.
Reflecting on Donsuemor’s long-term success, Chatard said the best advice for others trying to navigate the competitive and chaotic consumer market is “to stay true to your values. There are so many opportunities in today’s world … but if you stay true to your values and don’t take short cuts, and surround yourself with people who share your passion, you can do anything.”