Paper Topic: France’s Famously Crusty Baguette goes soft, Changing Customer preference over target marketing

Home, - France’s Famously Crusty Baguette goes soft


The current law French Bread Law 1993 Le Décret Pain should not be changed in respect to how long a Baguette should be baked in tandem with customer's demand of a doughier loaf that is leading to softening of Famously Crusty Baguette in recent times. As per studies of National Bread Observatory of France, the Baguette, of which the French are huge admirers, accounts for 75% of their total bread consumption.

            This symbol of their national heritage is widely known for its crustiness. But if the bread is not well baked, it's not good enough & loses its trademark (Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, a French writer and bread enthusiast). As per traditional bakers, correct baking time ensures the exchange of flavour between interior and exterior, thus creating the perfect balance. This makes baguette bread so unique- soft and airy crumb enveloped in a golden coloured crispy crust.

Changing Customer preference over target marketing:

But in recent times, customer preference is changing to 'white baguettes' which are partially baked and tastes better when reheated at home

The baguette is a by-product of a labour law around World War 1 which protected & prevented French bakers from working before 4am. Due to which they could not bake traditional round loaves that made up 98% of the daily diet of the population then, by the time of breakfast. So they worked on newer kind of bread, which was quicker to make and bake for its thin shape. Initially, the baguette was like "mythical" bread, only available to the aristocracy that was later popularised, thanks to new steam ovens technology with which most bakeries were equipped by the 1920s.

The baguette became a breakfast essential throughout France, but these long thin breads had been around even before. As per a story, around the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, claims that he passed a law with respect to the exact measurement of bread type such that it fits into pockets of his soldier's uniform.

In a bid to protect the bakers & traditional bread making process, French law regulates what ingredients can be used to make these baguettes (substantially, wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast) and limits the use of the name boulangerie-or bakery-to shops where bread is made and baked on the premises. French people are so much in love with their baguette that it's common for them to start eating the heel of loaf from bakery only on the way to home.

But The Bread Decree of 1993  is not clear on one key issue is how long the baguette should stay in the oven. As per individual choice and taste, one can ask the baker for a baguette that is well cooked & caramelized crusty or undercooked & soft. A typical baguette takes about 20 to 25 minutes to bake, though the time can vary as per weather and humidity. But nowadays in many Parisian bakeries, these pale & lifeless loaves are cooked for only 17 minutes, to suit changing the taste and fast life needs of customers.            

            Eating under baked baguette has multiple gastric side effects as per nutritionists & experts like heartburn, acidity, flatulence,etc . This is because the inner bread core is not airy enough for an oral digestive enzyme to work effectively. One feels like eating chewing gum, but you have to swallow it too.

Despite the recent onslaught of newer under baked version-"white baguette" the traditional-styled one has become the go-to choice, accounting to 25% of sales. Competitions are regularly arranged for, "best boulangerie," "best baguette in Paris," and the list goes on. These are prestigious titles and a great achievement for the lover of breads, and of baguettes specifically. France likes to celebrate those who provide good bread.

However, looking at the current scenario and the timings and preference of the customers, it is getting difficult for the bakers to keep the bakery on for a longer time without any breaks, which also indicates that the people working in the bakeries are just toiling to fulfil their customers' demands. 

Customer is always right:

The maxim "The customer is always right" which has been deeply ingrained in our psyche, was coined initially by Mr. Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909, the founder of Selfridge's department store in London.

Businesses around the globe use it to-

  • Convince customers that they will get excellent service
  • Convince employees to give customers excellent service

But now more and more businesses are abandoning this phrase - as in contrast to earlier belief, it leads to bad customer service. When this attitude prevails of keeping customer above the employees, they stop caring about service.

Why the customers are not always right:

1: Employees become Unhappy

The "always right" phrase favours the customer; many times its reason for resentment among employees (Bethune)

2: Unfair Advantage to Abrasive Customers

This means that instead of nice people, abusive people get better treatment. It makes much more sense, to be nice to the good customers to keep them coming back instead of pampering rough ones.

3: Customers are not always right, even some are Bad for Business

Earnings & profits from wrong customers, in the long run, should not be the deciding factor. Respect and dignity are utterly crucial for employees, how one treats them visa vis brash customer, is a key differentiator.

4: It Results in Worse Customer Service

When you put the employees first, they will be happy at work & thus they put the customers first. Then Employees give better customer service because they are more happy, motivated and caring towards customers.


It's fair to say that the baguette has become synonymous with France, famous not only  in its home country, but known world over. Baguette should have a crisp and shiny crust & inside light, slightly dry. One should not be disappointed if it stales fast & doesn't last long -as it tells you; it's the real French Baguette! But with recent changes in customer preference just for their sheer convenience, is causing them to go for undercooked version, which is neither good for health nor great in taste. In addition it's causing damage to the traditional recipe of baguette. More than four hundred years of practice, a revolution and much more have gone into making the baguette the bread we all know and love today! So the customer is not always right; we should not always change with their demands. But they should be educated and coaxed towards sticking to the original & more bronzed baguette

The great French baguette - a symbol of France, has something of special status. Hence the demand to regulate the timing of baking of Baguette should be overheard.

Leave a comment


Related :-