Breakfast – The Growing Divide
2017 is a year of uncertainty, we will face much political and economical speculation and change. The world is changing but we can be certain that food is going to remain important- and breakfast, well breakfast is still claimed to be the most important meal of the day, both by experts and consumers…why though are we not seeing this in breakfast behaviour. Buying and consumption shows that we are not giving breakfast the justice it deserves.
The way we breakfast is changing significantly and for people to claim breakfast is an important meal, whilst true, may be a statement/sentiment which needs to change as we begin to question if it is even a meal in its own right these days. There are several major factors having an influence on how we breakfast, when we breakfast, and what we breakfast upon. With things like a need for convenience (time and place), a need for personalisation, and a result of mass migration seeing new offerings being delivered as accessible alternatives to traditional options.
We all know that people are busier than ever, the growing demands of working longer hours and being constantly connected in this modern age mean we are devoting less time to cooking and eating than ever before. It is also worth considering the rise of flexible working- increasingly people within a household have different schedules, so the way they breakfast needs to be individualised (remove that image of a family sitting around a table eating a hearty breakfast whilst talking gleefully with each other). There is still a high proportion of breakfast food being found in the home cupboard, with studies showing 70% still grab something inside the house before heading out. Some of that 70% is eaten in the house, but an increasing proportion is eaten on the run, how many of you have left the house with a piece of toast hanging out of your mouth? This means that some of those choices need to be portable, filling, and with an increasing focus on nutrition too. Health benefits are really important at this moment, with people focusing on things like fibre, protein and wholegrain as goodness that will help to set them up for the day.
Breakfast is also fast becoming the newest ‘anytime snack’ so as well as setting us up for the day when we are in a rush- we are increasingly grabbing breakfast items through the day too. This is a cross generational trend which is seeing growth, where breakfast foods are eaten as they would be at breakfast, just at any time of day or the consumption is tweaked (i.e handfuls of granola, with no milk) to turn it into a snack with all the convenience but better nutrition than some of the more traditional snack categories. Adding to this ‘hacked’ use of traditional offerings, we see demand driven innovation in this space too- Belvita Biscuits, cereal pots, and breakfast being served as a drink (e.g. Weetabix).
This cuts across different consumers but is a significant trend when we look at millennials, the biggest consumer group coming through, with big spending power and they want things their own way! Health is important to them, but mass market is something they shy away from. We see therefore much more customisation of breakfasts, adding of toppings, which plays to make it their own, and also adds health benefits. Think nuts and fruits added to traditional breakfast foods. Products where consumers can make small tweaks and still be time efficient are seeing lots of activity, things like bircher muesli/overnight soaked oats with lots of additions and layering’s. These can be prepared the night before, you can make it as you want it and you can take it out with you to enjoy as you wish.
When time allows, breakfast is a meal which is still savoured and indulged, something where people enjoy experimenting and trying new things and something where authenticity is currently playing large. Brunch is the way to style it out at the weekend, and show that you know good food. Driven by both increasing migration, and also more ‘real world’ holidaying- the market for ethnic offerings is bang on trend. Go on an urban exploration and you will easily find a hipster type brunch menu offering things like Asian syrups, chorizo scrambled egg, coconut milk pancakes, harissa hashes, congee, pides and shakshuka, escape the day to day rush and really enjoy some authentic eating.
The growing breakfast divide
So the title talked about the growing divide, I think this is twofold. The divide between how important breakfast is and how much time we can give it. There must be product, packaging, and in-store delivery innovations which can help people with this. Let’s look for the problem, and deliver a solution. The other division is between the way we breakfast through the week, and the way we breakfast at the weekend- how can we offer even greater experiences at the time rich points, and how can we take some of that experience which people so obviously desire and sprinkle into a time poor week. The divide is growing but this is a rich space to really offer products which will enhance the breakfast experience, and build great accessible nutrition to start the day. Consumers perceive a gap between what they want from breakfast (healthy and fast) and what’s available today, and therein lies huge opportunity.