Some cake trends are a slow burn…others happen literally overnight. Sometimes, it’s just so darn hard to predict.
I’ve been reflecting fondly back on the biggest cake trends that have popped up over the years…does anyone remember the topsy-turvy cake trend? The incredible geode cake? Or perhaps you’ve admired the ‘staying’ power of the naked cake?
Whenever a new trend hits the cake scene – BAM! – every cake decorator and their Kitchenaid jumps onto the band-wagon (classic, weird or otherwise).
We are then *inundated* with photos in our social feeds, with cakers proudly showing off their on-trend replicas. Consequently, this adds to the hype and ensures that cake trends continue to live past their use-by date.
Cough cough – unicorn cakes – cough cough. Sorry, something stuck in my throat there…
The big question is though…should you actually be embracing these latest cake trends in your business?
Simple answer: no.
Well at least not ALL of them.
I’ve seen so many cakers get shiny object syndrome and jump into cake trends without considering how it might impact their business.
Just like any decision you make in your cake biz, introducing on-trend product offerings, or accepting on-trend cake orders, needs to be thought-out and considered.
Embracing trends can do one of two things: it can help you innovate and make money or it could alienate your audience, waste your time and keep your business stagnant.
I’ve experienced both of these scenarios…and let me tell you, it took some hard, crying-in-the-shower lessons, for me to realise that I needed to be more selective with the trends I introduced in my business.
The last time I embraced a popular cake trend in my business was during the height of the unicorn cake craze.
To help set the scene, I generally advertised my business as a high-end cake and cupcake shop. So my target audience were typically big money earners and well known figures in my community, who were willing to pay the price for me to custom design and create cakes for their special events.
I typically didn’t involve myself in the latest cake craze – it wasn’t something I was interested in – and didn’t rely on their hype to make money, so I would decline almost every ‘on-trend’ order.
BUT…I did have my “weak” moments.
It was during a busy cake week that I received a message request to make a unicorn cake for a little girl’s 10th birthday party, due for Sunday (it was Thursday at the time). Now this customer wasn’t my usual target market (Mum on a budget), and like I said above, I didn’t involve myself with on-trend cake orders.
Usually I would have no qualms with declining this type of order request…
But the customer explained that the previous decorator had cancelled their order and they were frantically trying to find a replacement decorator to make the cake. Many places were already booked and they reached out to me as a last resort. The mother sounded so upset and admittedly it pulled at my heart strings.
I was ‘umm-ng’ and ‘uhhhh-ing’ about accepting the order…
I finally thought, ‘I COULD squeeze the order in…maybe I should give it a go? It’ll be easy to pull together and it would make this little girl’s birthday so special. It’ll be easy money!’
Once I agreed to accept the order, the customer became a nightmare. She argued against my “high pricing” and was evasive with making payment. She needed constant updates while I made her cake, where she second guessed my decisions. She also attempted to change the design the day the cake was due.
I felt like I had aged 10 years in only those few short days. I started to understand why the previous cake decorator had bailed…
Despite the challenges, the unicorn cake actually turned out great! I didn’t receive a compliment or any thanks from the customer on delivery, which irritated me. So I decided to post a photo of the cake to my (business) Facebook page.
This was admittedly against my better judgement, but I was craving that positivity from my followers and recognition of a job well done after slogging away in the kitchen. You know that feeling?
I posted the photo and (to my great surprise) the aforementioned customer shared my post to a local public Facebook group, raving about how amazing the cake was. Despite her previous ‘Karen-like’ behaviour, I was so relieved she had shared positive feedback!
Then unexpectedly, I received an onslaught of cake enquiries from eager Mum’s requesting “reasonably priced” unicorn and drip cakes for their children’s birthday parties. They had all seen the photo of my unicorn cake in that Facebook group!
I remember internally cringing…this wasn’t the audience or the type of cake orders I wanted to attract to my business!
But I had no one to blame but myself.
In a flurry of panic, I immediately deleted the unicorn cake photo from my Facebook page and spent a good hour responding to (declining and referring) order requests.
Boy did I learn a BIG lesson.
Ultimately, that cake order ended up being more trouble than it was worth; it was a huge waste of my time, money and energy.
It was clear the Karen-like customer didn’t respect my time or talent, and through the power of Facebook, I attracted the completely wrong target market.
Accepting that order for the unicorn cake – something I NEVER created or ever planned to do again – just distracted me from delivering value to my higher paying customers who actually respected my worth.
I should have never taken that cake order. Lesson learnt.
This is just one small example of how embracing the latest trends – without any thought – can negatively impact your business.
The big question is: how do you know what trends will make or break your business?
To ensure you make a positive impact for your business (and avoid wasting precious time), here’s what you need to ask yourself before introducing an ‘on-trend’ gimmick or cake design:
- Is this new trend simply a one-hit-wonder? Or does this trend have ‘staying power’?
- Is this trend relevant to my niche? Ie. wedding cakes, children’s cakes and so on.
- Will my key target audience buy this trend?
- Will focusing on this trend alienate my key target market and attract people I don’t want to service?
- Will embracing this trend allow me to generate extra income to support my business?
- Will introducing this new trend be too much trouble or cost me more in the long run?
Answering and really considering these questions will help you to define the relevance of the trend to your business (if any) and if it’s worth investing into.
Remember: don’t get caught up in the hype – be selective and do what’s right for the direction of your business and your target customers.
If you’d like to start moving beyond the cake trends and challenge yourself to explore your creativity, join me on my Instagram page to keep up to date with the launch of my new Facebook group!
The purpose of this group is to inspire, educate and empower you to reach your full creative potential, so you can become the cake designer you’ve always wanted to be. I can’t wait to help you embrace your creative identity!