Hello! :) I was thinking about my market and many people I've seen or talked to (or overheard in conversations in line) seem to only want to buy a big bakery cookie if they are sharing it with others. There seem to be a lot of health-orientated groups who indulge in a small amount of sweet stuff. After reading one of Nordical's posts about changing her market product, I thought about my own market and if regular and/or huge size cookies would still fit. And then it hit me! Mini cookies! You see small packs of mini cookies at the store, so why not? Does anyone offer these bite-sized morsels and if so, do you see more/less/same demand for them? Do you think it's a feasible market with mini cookies and perhaps mini pies? Pies seem to be more in demand than cakes.
More about my area: Income level is about $40k, mostly small families, lots of snow birds and retirees, but a lot income is fixed. We have poor foot traffic and people go to the next city over for the mall. I frequently see young people and middle aged sharing a giant cookie with several others at our local bakery (we have one bakery which is awesome, but they do mostly breads).
I was thinking about packaging them in clear bags with a label on the front. I can see it being a major pain making so many small cookies, but for me I'm kinda sad when the cookie dough is all scooped out. I figured I would test it on my family (who are going towards smaller indulgences) and friends and maybe try to see if my church wants to do a fundraiser with them (our projector is acting up and it will have to be replaced soon). I'm thinking mini cookies would be great at a farmer's market, but that is a long way away. So going to file this away in my business notebook.
A baker in my area makes a small mound cookie. The he cookie looks, and is in fact very dry and flavorless. Her cookies look like dirt clods and don't taste much better. But she markets on the coattails of a nationally known chef, who she once worked for, so people buy her cookies. No doubt marketing in of itself can make for a successful product regardless if it's good.
But I don't want to produce a crappy product. I want to incorporate my food philosophy of high quality natural and organic ingredients with great aesthetics and flavor. My cookies are only 3", but I use block Belgian chocolate which I chop into chunks. Cane sugar gives the cookie both flavor, aroma, and a very rich color. So despite its small size, it's very enticing. Interestingly, I tested Valrhona, but no one liked it.
I use cane sugar, organic flour, and European butter. People have a more sophisticated palate than I think we give them credit for. I've made over a dozen test batches and tasters make comments about the flavor of toffee, the feel of the chocolate. I believe a small cookie can pack a wallop of flavor and texture.
Pepple willing pay more if they know the quality is in the product. The old adage you get what you pay for holds true for food products as well as any other product. The key in marketing is educating your customer to the quality ingredients and the care in production. People come to the area I live in from all over the country. In most of the world prices are considerably less then what they are here. Yet despite differences in cost of living, people still purchase high ends baked goods here.
Packaging is very important. I've had a number of my testers comment on my packaging. I am very careful to keep the packaging simple & elegant. I'm careful to keep packaging from hiding the product--my cookies need to entice by there appearence.
A couple weeks ago A friend and I went into a pie shop. She took one look at the pies and said, "these things look terrible I don't want to eat this." Your product has to sell itself.
i'm torn - on one side i think of all the extra work and it makes me tired -- i'd rather make a nice fat cake --
but then on the other hand -- in my tearoom i could not sell any of my *desserts -- couldn't budge 'em - so i started marketing 'a bite of dessert' -- i put one third of each of the three of them on a plate and they sold very well --
so "would you like a bite of dessert" won hands down over "would you like some dessert" so all that to say there is merit to your idea, but more work too making all those minis --
*flourless chocolate cake, bavarian apple cheesecake with caramel sauce and a lemon tart i think it was
but portion control is huge in my life and i will definitely pay more for a smaller size at times so you probably have something there, cb
Thank you for your responses!
@Norcalhiker I know packaging/presentation is good, people eat with their eyes first! (unless they're a teenager, ha ha) I'm guessing that it's even more so with bite size? And if I can find it cost effective, I want to use Ghiradelli chocolate, organic flour/sugar, but right now it's the regular stuff for testing (except for the chocolate, can't get enough of Ghiradelli dark chocolate!). Hm, pointing out how it's better (organic, no artificial stuff) is a good idea, would justify the price too. I'd like to incorporate local into it as well since we have a blueberry farm just up the road from us. Lemon-Blueberry cookies sound really good to me. Just not sure how to much to cook puree down, more experimenting!
@-K8memphis The "tea room" crowd is who my target market will be, couldn't think of the name. People around here appreciate the smaller desserts it seems over the big ones. Quite a few outdoor sports types here (kayak, running) lots of nature trails and a beach that's also a protected area. Not like the big city where I moved from.... that could support two coffee shops across from each other! It's a bit different here and slower pace. Not that I'm complaining, been here seven years and don't miss the traffic!
I know it'll be extra work, did a test this evening. My hubby said my chocolate chips taste better as a mini cookie than full size and I have to agree with him on that. I'm kinda fascinated by the smaller treats, they also seem less daunting when making them as opposed to a full size cake.
I also make a cranberry-jalapeno-lime cookie, do you think jalapenos would translate well to a mini cookie? Maybe one piece of jalapeno per cookie? I don't want the whole cookie to be blistering hot, maybe cayenne powder instead, but it doesn't have the same taste... hrm... That one is going to take a while.
I, too, used grocery store ingredients while I developed the recipe. The exception was the butter and chocolate, I felt these two ingredients would so greatly impact the result, I didn't want to risk a poor outcome. I quickly learned the brand butter will greatly effect the cookie. In one test batch I used a very expensive cultured butter--thinking an exceptional butter will make an exceptional cookie. The cookie spread and turned very crisp. The 86% butterfat content was too high. When I thought the texture, aroma, and look of the cookie was about right, I began to use all the organic ingredients. I'm told the result is exceptional.
I tested 4 brands of chocolate: Valrhona, Callebaut, Ghiradelli, and Guittard. No one liked the Valrhona--they thought it was bitter. Guittard tasted bland. Ghiradelli got mixed reviews, okay flavor, nothing to write home about. But the Callebaut won hands down. Tasters said things like, when I think of a chocolate chip cookie this is what I think of. I can't explain it, but when I bite into this chocolate, the feel of it is so good. This chocolate is what chocolate is suppose to taste like. One taster said it was delicious, but rich for his taste. He said he'd definitely buy that cookie, but he could only eat one.
I believe marketing the organic aspect does a lot to justify the price. Context is very important. I always explain I use the purest ingredients available to me, like organic flour, etc. then put it in context by saying, never any GMO beet sugar, etc. then of course there's the BS jargon like "handcrafted" . Geez, even polluted cookies are handcrafted:)