Special Report Supermarkets: Bread
1st September, 2004
Supermarket in-store bakeries are nothing but bogus ‘retail theatre’
Who has not heard the story that supermarkets deliberately pump fresh baking smells into their stores to seduce the shopper’s senses? Whether the story is apocryphal or otherwise (no one has ever pinned this one down, by the way), it is true that all the larger supermarkets these days have prominently sited in-store bakeries that look and smell like proper bakeries, and turn out wave after wave of breads, rolls and assorted cookies and cakes. Supermarkets like them because they inject some ‘retail theatre’ into stores.
Consumers are understandably seduced by the volatile compounds that make up these baking smells. Our senses are not finely enough tuned to tell us whether what is being baked is any good or not. Bad bread smells as appealing as good bread. We think that supermarket in-store bread smells lovely, and assume it must be good.
In the sterile, odour-free supermarket environment, it creates a warm, comforting effect, and supports the illusion that there are skilled, master bakers making a fresh product on the spot. The in-store bakery seems to encapsulate all the virtues of a traditional high-street craft baker. Its odoriferous homespun ‘halo’ shines a light that makes...
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