Breakfast on-the-go is big business for quick-serve eateries and food retailers

Breakfast on-the-go is big business for quick-serve eateries and food retailers

There are many trends that are set by larger restaurants and retailers, and there are certainly just as many opportunities that are identified by those who have the resources to splurge ahead first. But that’s not always the case, however: Early last year, after talking up a big game, Wendy’s, with more than 6,000 restaurants globally, pulled out of testing and expanding its breakfast program.

The chain had talked up a big game of attack. At the onset, there were visions of breakfast paninis and wraps and a strong coffee program in a massive rollout. There was also talk of supporting countless stores with the operational guidance, training and equipment needed to make the program go chain-wide.

More recently, according to a Business Journal article, there were fewer than 500 Wendy’s restaurants serving breakfast as of last January. Aside from this not-so-inspiring story, many restaurants and retailers have found success in the breakfast daypart. Fifty-nine percent of consumers surveyed by Packaged Facts have visited a limited-service-restaurant or food retailer for breakfast.

In our Foodservice Breakfast Trends report, we estimate breakfast sales growing 5% in 2013 to over $47B, so there are continued opportunities for restaurants and retailer in expanding their breakfast programs. For restaurants, innovation and convenience will be big drivers of a the morning meal.

Among consumers surveyed, we found that 24% of customers take breakfast to go and 19% use a drive-thru for off-premise breakfast. In 2014, we expect breakfast sales to grow by more than 5%.

Restaurant owners will think outside the egg

Although eggs account for more than a third of breakfast items chosen by consumers, they need a strong supporting cast of ingredients and aren’t necessarily the only items on consumers’ mind. Enhancing and continually innovating menus is important.

Those diners ordering a breakfast burrito was 15%, which reflects a growing minority consumer base and an emerging travel-seasoned and foodie culture, so breakfast that has global influences will be popular, particularly in more urban and diverse markets. At Einstein Bros. Bagels, for example, diners currently have some interesting breakfast wrap choices: One is a Santa Fe wrap, served with egg, turkey sausage, ancho-lime salsa, jalapeño cream cheese shmear & pepper jack cheese, and the other is called the Spicy Elmo.

The precariously-named Spicy Elmo breakfast wrap features egg, bacon, green chiles, Swiss cheese & spicy red chili cream cheese shmear. Keeping current with trends has helped Einstein, a chain of more than 600 quick-serve eateries.

Retailers should also innovate and focus on convenience

Retailers should look at convenience, ease of access and portability, along with developing a strong beverage program-that’s just for starters and key for C-store operators. Coffee is ordered in 90% of the transactions in C-stores. As we discussed in our pivotal breakfast report, Wawa is a best-in-class operator that is a trend-setter and operates over 600 markets in several states in the Southeast. From Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate to Vanilla Chai Tea Latte, the C-store chain makes it a point to offer specialty flavors of hot beverages that can compete with A-class quick-serves.

A good number of consumers are also looking for cold and hot tea beverage options so those need to be woven into any strong breakfast beverage program.

Innovation on the menu in other key areas should not be overlooked:

•Providing healthy offerings, while featuring indulgence items

•Ensuring portability for on-the-go success

•Bringing in items with superfood status and “wellness” characteristics

Convenience is a must for any food retailer, including C-stores and supermarkets. More than a quarter of consumers tell Packaged Facts that breakfast users would be motivated by locations that are more convenience. The message might read something like this, “Let me get in and get it out very quickly.”

As more operators focus on operational and menu trend drivers that will court time-starved customers to win over breakfast business, they’ll be more than sunnyside about the sales growth they’ll be seeing.

Want to learn more? Read more about our Breakfast trends report here.

Add the report to your own intelligence library and receive a 5% discount during our promotional period effective through March 24, 2014. Use code PF7857050.

Photo credit: Starbucks. Starbucks has found portability and speed of service drivers of breakfast success.