How to Win at Breakfast

Meet your consumers' needs for health and innovation during the morning day-part

Kristina Peters, Associate Editor, CSP

Robert Byrne

Robert Byrne

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- McDonald's put pressure on every foodservice segment when it rolled out all-day breakfast this year. But there's good news: More than a third of consumers have increased their away-from-home breakfast purchases, according to Technomic research presented during the education session "Winning the Breakfast Battle" during the 2016 FARE conference.

This means there is ample opportunity for all foodservice segments to capture breakfast sales, and ultimately win in this day-part, said Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal for Technomic, a Winsight company.

Away-from-home purchases of breakfast have increased because consumers are increasingly on the go, but they also recognize that there are a wider variety of breakfast items available at both restaurants and convenience stores. "There's so much innovation right now that's appealing to them," Crecca said. 

So what can you do as a retailer to make sure they are coming to you for their breakfast needs? 

First, offer customers something they can't get at home. According to Technomic, 55% of consumers order something different from what they would normally eat at home. The top reasons for doing so are: "I want to enjoy a meal I am unable to make at home" (60% of respondents), the meals uses "ingredients that I would not typically purchase" (49%), and it "would be very difficult to make at home" (46%). 

Second, offer healthier options. Fifty percent of consumers agree or strongly agree that they are ordering more meals that include better-for-you offerings, Technomic reports. Healthier items of most interest to consumers include fruit juice, oatmeal, fruit cups, omelets and hot tea and coffee. That said, "breakfast potatoes are really trending right now on menus as an add-on," which indicates consumers still want to indulge, Crecca said. 

Finally, innovation is key, and quick-service restaurants such as Taco Bell and Carl's Jr. are the innovation leaders. Taco Bell is testing French toast dippers and "popanadas," a strawberries and cream empanada.

"[Taco Bell] reclaimed the fourth day-part a couple of years ago, and now they're going after the first [day-part]," said Robert Byrne, manager of market insights for Technomic. As for Carl's Jr., this chain is testing the use of muffins as buns for breakfast sandwiches at Southern California locations.