Industry News | September 10, 2010

Meet Consumers in the Morning

Breakfast is a fast-growing daypart in the quick-service industry, and experts at QSR’s Dine America conference, September 12-14 in Atlanta, will share why quick serves would be wise to meet consumers in the morning—and what the best strategy is to do so.

Panelists include Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for the NPD Group; Keira Moritz, executive chef for Pacci Ristorante and AltoRex Rooftop Lounge; and Steve Solomon, founder of FSInsights.

Riggs spoke with QSR’s Sam Oches about the impacts of breakfast in today’s quick-serve environment.

Why should breakfast be on quick serves’ radars?

It’s really one of the few bright spots for the restaurant industry. It’s been a growth market. We’ve got a lot of different reasons why consumers are eating breakfast more often, not only at home. We’ve got this whole health and wellness movement, and maybe they just started listening to mom, but they feel it’s a good way to start the day, give them fuel for energy.

It’s also turned into a multi-meal occasion, where you’ve got some who will have a little something at home on their way in to work, pick up something in the drive thru, and then about 10 a.m. go have a specialty coffee or something like that. We did a study a little while back, and about 27 percent of consumers said that it was a multi-meal occasion for them.

What demographics are especially pushing the breakfast trend?

The heaviest users are the younger, 25–49-year-olds. But actually, 40 percent of the growth has come from consumers between 50–64 years of age.

What do consumers want from breakfast at quick serves?

There’s a lot of room for innovation, but convenience is key, and having it be portable. The vast majority of quick-serve visits are off-premises—I go through the drive thru or I carry something out. While the vast majority of customers move off premises, you have to have things that you can eat on the run that are portable. We’re starting to see a lot more operators offer up platters. There’s opportunity for growth on both sides.

The top-growing items at breakfast for quick service are specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches, along with breakfast wraps and burritos. We like to try new things, so as long as we can eat it in the car, eat it on the run, we’re always liking new products.

Can the healthy eating trend be worked into the breakfast trend?

Operators need to. The other thing they have to be careful of … is customers say, “When you give me healthier things and things that are better for me, you charge me more for them.” That is a deterrent. So they have to be careful to offer up healthier, lighter alternatives.

Are there ways quick serves can match their breakfast offerings with their other daypart offerings?

There are many folks who would like to be able to get breakfast at other times of the day. With the fast food operators, they kind of shut it off a little early. There are many consumers that are looking for breakfast items at other times of the day. Even if they could do just a limited part of their breakfast menu, I think it would be appealing to consumers.

How important will the breakfast trend be in the future?

It’s not going to die off soon. What we were able to do was to take historical trends and forecast over the next decade which concepts and categories and segments and foods and beverages are likely to grow or grow strongly. Breakfast was one of the meal occasions that was forecasted to show strong growth over the next decade.

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