in the United States is no longer one square meal, but sometimes just a beverage or snack and often not eaten in one sitting, leaving restaurants the ability to meet consumers at various points throughout the morning, new research from The NPD Group finds.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based market released a study Wednesday showing that people approach breakfast in different ways, whether eating at home or at a restaurant. Of more than 27,000 people surveyed about their morning meal habits, 43 percent said a typical breakfast consists only of a beverage like coffee, while 24 percent said breakfast typically includes a small meal. Another 21 percent characterized their typical breakfast as a full meal, while 11 percent said they opt for just a snack in the morning.
Breakfast does not necessarily mean one occasion, either. While 38 percent of respondents said they limit themselves to one eating or drinking occasion in the morning, 41 percent said they have two or more occasions, such as having a small meal early in the morning and stopping for coffee later. Another 10 percent of respondents reported they regularly skip breakfast, representing an opportunity for incremental business for restaurant marketers, said Dori Hickey, director of product development for NPD.
The average number of eating or drinking occasions in the morning is 1.4 times per person, NPD found, which could mean as many as 420 million meal occasions per day or 153 billion occasions per year across the population of the United States.
Source: The NPD Group/Morning MealScape 2011
“Understanding the number of eating and drinking occasions and items helps food manufacturers size the morning opportunity,” Hickey said. “By developing versatile products and positioning products as both a meal and snack, food companies can meet consumers’ varied morning meal needs and maximize sales volume.”
Some of the quick-service segment’s biggest chains have shown the importance of the morning meal with major breakfast investments.
Wendy’s has announced plans to get its breakfast menu and Redhead Roasters lineup into 1,000 locations in the near future, while Taco Bell expanded its test of its First Meal breakfast menu to 750 locations in 10 western states. Subway launched breakfast in 2010 and built its market share to 1.6 percent of the breakfast market by 2011, spending an estimated $50 million in advertising to reach that level.
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Other brands are trying to make their breakfast items smaller or more portable to capitalize on the popularity of breakfast snacks or to sell those items at between-meal periods all day.
McDonald’s, for example, began testing a line of baked goods at more than 600 locations in the Northeast. The items, including a cheese Danish, muffins, vanilla scone and banana bread, are sold all day, as are the baked goods included in Wendy’s breakfast menu currently in test. McDonald’s also has begun selling Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and Cinnamon Melts all day.
Other chains with new cinnamon roll products include Tim Hortons, which introduced the Cinnamon Delight to its menu, and Burger King, which is testing a Cinnabon-branded treat in a few markets.
Starbucks Coffee also expanded its line of Petites to include four new snacks: apple pie, cherry pie, a brown sugar walnut tart and a chocolate hazelnut tart. Dunkin’ Donuts, meanwhile, is incorporating steak, normally associated with dinner, into its breakfast lineup with the Angus Steak & Egg Sandwich limited-time offer.
With its latest limited-time offer, family-dining chain Denny’s is trying to incorporate another popular consumer trend, customization, into breakfast with its Build Your Own Pancakes menu. Customers can choose different batters, mix-ins and toppings for their order of pancakes. For those who don’t want to customize, Denny’s offers five designed pancake breakfasts: Sweet Pecana ‘Nana, Peanut Butter Cup, Blueberry Muffin, Bananaberry, and Strawberries & Cream.
Watch Denny's new pancake TV ad