Industry Insights: The Marketing Battle for Breakfast


We have been working extensively with clients Dawn Foods and New York Bakery Co, monitoring the changing sector of breakfast, and have found it to have changed dramatically in recent years.

What is breakfast? It means different things to different people and at different times of the week.

Working people’s weekday breakfast is no longer a bowl of cereal with milk at home before leaving to catch the train. Instead it’s a coffee to go and a ‘breakfast item’ (anything from porridge to bagels to muffins or even the humble bacon sarnie) that can be consumed on the go or at the desk. Real food on the move.

At weekends breakfast is the fastest growing segment on the away from home menu – with people opting for a bigger brunch style meal, downsizing on lunch and eating again later in the day.

Breakfast at home is out of favour, breakfast ‘out’ is increasingly a regular treat and an emerging social slot – cheaper than lunch or dinner. Spending on breakfast is up 31% compared with eight years ago (NPD). So how has this transition come about?Marketing has been quietly transforming breakfast for brands and independents alike in recent years and on two levels.

The first has been to open up operators to the opportunities offered by breakfast service through research from the likes of Allegra and Horizons who have highlighted consumer demand. Why not exploit a new segments if you have kit and premises available standing empty? Opening early – as early as 6am – places demands on staff but with demonstrable profits becomes a key income stream.

The second level has been driven by the retail brands communicating that they are open for breakfast – both in and on the go.

Some brands have been quick on the breakfast uptake and eager to compete with high street coffee retailers, with Weatherspoon’s driving the effort to make this segment its own. Going to the pub for breakfast was unheard of a few years ago but now is a key profit driver – central London Wetherspoons pubs report a steady increase in breakfast trade. Brands have upped their game and broadened their menu and the timing of their breakfast service from early in the morning until almost lunchtime.

It’s independents though which are driving menu innovation and making breakfast/brunch a real social occasion, an affordable indulgence. The US and Australia do brunch well and the trend is catching on here – plates of avocado on toast, eggs benedict, pancakes and savoury or sweet combinations and a host of new choices to tickle the taste buds.

Brands like Bills and Boston Tea Party have been key to growing the brunch segment as they have rolled out their brand to the regions and given the consumers increased opportunity to have brunch out.

But despite our new taste for breakfast out and the choice we are offered, there is one thing that strong marketing communications doesn’t seem to have changed. The good old British public stands firms on one thing – the nation’s favourite breakfast remains, according to NPD, full English with bacon, eggs beans and toast. Cest la vie.

Spread the love