The Competitive Edge

Croissants Bistro and Bakery Contest

Croissants Bistro and Bakery's annual cupcake eating competition

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, July 4 means cupcakes. For the past six years, Croissants Bistro and Bakery has hosted an annual cupcake-eating contest. “Many of our customers participate as an established local tradition, but last year we actually had professional eaters come out as well,” says owner Alexandra Eline. One of those pros took home the grand prize in 2017, eating 59 cupcakes in five minutes. The media took notice, gaining the bakery national recognition.

Running contests can boost customer engagement and spread the word about your bakery. Here’s where to start.

Get Planning

Don’t underestimate the work involved in running a contest. Plan at least six months out, calculating all labor and ingredient costs. In addition to baking hundreds of cupcakes for Croissants’ contest, Eline’s team collaborates with fellow businesses to pool a prize (typically gift certificates), markets the event through social media and press outlets, and maps out day-of logistics.

Get Social

Promoting these events on social channels ahead of the event generates buzz about the bakery. “We definitely get customers who come in weeks ahead of time because they’re excited about the contest,” Eline says. It can also turn what may otherwise be a midsummer slow season into a sales bump.

The day of the contest, capture a ton of photos, but be mindful of which you post. An overhead shot of a dozen cupcakes? Definitely. A close-up of a contestant voraciously eating? Probably not.

Get Creative

Time and budget don’t have to hold bakeries back; even small contests can help boost engagement and reach new consumers. Cupcake bakery More in Chicago recently asked its Facebook fans to submit a song that included the word “vanilla.” The first 30 correct submissions won a free cupcake.

The Village Bakery and Cafe in Atwater Village, California, encourages patrons to share pictures of the eatery’s goods on Instagram, rewarding randomly selected participants with free treats.


Read about Sweetest Bakery in America, Dawn Foods' nationwide contest aimed at recognizing the delicious efforts of bakeries everywhere: