Making the Case for Breakfast

Focusing on the wants, needs of different types of eaters

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OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- Morning mealtime for consumers these days means more breakfasts on the run. Busier than ever, people are eating breakfast away from their homes, and they’re looking for variety, value, convenience and taste—all in one place.

Though consumers have cut back on lunches and dinners out, breakfast sales in foodservice have increased for the fourth consecutive year at 3%, according to the NPD Group. Quick-serve restaurants served the most consumers, with a 4% increase in sales and a projected growth of 9%, according to NPD’s 2013 research. However, despite this competition, convenience stores have just as much growth opportunity, especially those serving hot breakfast options.

“If you’re not in breakfast, you absolutely should be,” says Justin Massa, co-founder and CEO of Chicago foodservice research firm Food Genius. Since just earlier this year, Food Genius reports a whopping 5% increase in restaurants serving breakfast.

What’s more, consumers report that breakfast is important, even if they don’t eat it every day. “Our research finds consumers believe eating breakfast is a good idea for their health,” said Mary Chapman, product innovation director for Technomic. Still, most consumers skip breakfast at least once a week, and 37% say it’s because they don’t have time. That’s where c-stores can step in with portable, varied and value-added options paired with great beverage offerings.

A.M. Eating Types

A recent study by Kellogg’s, which polled more than 1,500 adult consumers of different ages and backgrounds, determined that morning eaters fall into five different categories, each with different needs and tastes. By focusing on the first three of the five breakfast eating types outlined in Kellogg’s report, c-stores have a ripe opportunity to boost morning sales.

Discerning Dashers—including many c-store customers—view their a.m. “meal” as more of a grazing snack to power up their day on the go, according to Kellogg’s. Beyond great taste and value, this group—which includes employed, “trendsetting” married and single adults around 38 years of age, 51% of whom live in the suburbs—want their breakfast to be portable, quick to eat, filling and easily accessible on the way to their destination.

Gulp N’ Runners often just have an a.m. beverage because they plan to eat more later. When they do nosh, they want quick-to-eat, affordable and fresh foods, but they won’t rule out snack items like chips and cookies and will grab healthier breakfast and energy bars. Speed and convenience are most important among this group of predominantly single, active men. They’re also more likely to eat and drink during the a.m. in their cars (54%).

Ninja Munchers, who are frequent c-store customers, are even more pressed for time and want what’s easy to eat and on the way. Satisfying, egg-based breakfast sandwiches and breakfast bars are their preferred a.m. foods. This group skews female (63 %) and suburban (46%), including married and single women on their way to work or driving kids to and from destinations. They frequent c-stores more than QSRs in the morning because they’re often in their cars (67%).

Even some opportunity exists among Sit n’ Savorers, who are mainly baby boomers who prefer to sit down to a bigger meal. When they do eat on the run, they choose a variety of snacks and healthier foods to tide them over, according to Kellogg’s.

Differentiating Day Parts

Consumer a.m. eating patterns represent an opportunity for operators beyond just breakfast. Expanding breakfast service hours to late morning, offering “lunch” foods earlier in the day and considering breakfast at late-night could help retailers beat competition and boost sales overall.

Technomic data shows 48% of consumers eat breakfast foods at nontraditional times, according to Chapman. Discerning Dashers and Ninja Munchers will even eat burgers and meat-based sandwiches in the late morning.

By focusing on the wants and needs of different breakfast eater types, c-stores can make specific changes to compete with QSRs in the race for a.m. sales.

To start optimizing your morning day-part sales, visit www.fafh.com.