Operators are learning that marrying breakfast with snacks is a recipe for success. Both are popular foodservice occasions with consumers and together offer a tremendous amount of opportunity for operators to drive traffic. Further, breakfast snacks fit into consumers’ demanding on-the-go lifestyles that leave little time for traditional sit-down meals. Larger industry trends, such as the growth of all-day and second breakfast, also showcase the need for more breakfast snacks at restaurants.
The Draw of Breakfast Snacks
Two-thirds of consumers (66%) find breakfast snacks appealing. This sentiment is particularly strong with consumers who come from a mixed ethnic background (82%), although more than seven out of 10 Hispanic (76%) and black/AfricanAmerican consumers (71%) also respond favorably to breakfast snacks. Of all ethnicities, Caucasians express the lowest interest in breakfast snacks (62%).
Although men and women find breakfast snacks equally appealing (66% and 67%, respectively), greater skews appear when breaking down gender responses by generation. The highest interest in breakfast snacks comes from men within the 25-34 age bracket (84%), while women within that bracket express less interest (73%). Younger women between 18 and 34 show more attraction than men within that age bracket (76% and 65%, respectively), whereas men between 35 and 54 are more likely than their female counterparts to express interest in breakfast snacks (73% and 66%, respectively). Not only do most consumers find breakfast snacks appealing, but over half (54%) would like to see more breakfast snacks on restaurant menus. Millennials are most likely to want to see more breakfast snack options (66%), followed by Gen Z and Gen X (both 59%). While some interest in breakfast snacks exists for baby boomers (44%) and matures (36%), many of these individuals prefer traditional plated meals. Other notable demographic findings include:
Consumers in the South have the highest response of all regions for wanting more breakfast snacks at restaurants (58%), while those in the West have the least interest (49%).
Responses between men (54%) and women (55%) are relatively equal for wanting an increase in breakfast snacks.
Hispanics have the highest proclivity to want more breakfast snacks (68%), whereas Caucasian and Asian consumers tie for the least likely (both 50%).
Breakfast Snack Options
Of all breakfast snacks, consumers indicate they are most likely to purchase fruit at least occasionally (66%). This preference speaks to consumer interest in better-for-you options during snacking occasions. Other lighter breakfast snacks purchased from time to time include cereal (53%), yogurt (45%) and oatmeal (41%).
On the other hand, indulgent offerings are also sought out by many individuals. More than half of consumers say they occasionally purchase breakfast sandwich snacks (53%), and slightly fewer also agree to buying doughnuts (51%), bagels (48%) and hash browns (46%). The popularity of these items speaks to consumers’ gravitation toward comfort foods — even during snacking occasions.
Ways to "Snackify" Breakfast Items
Because smaller items often resonate as snack food, operators can enhance the appeal of their snack selections by shrinking the portion size of popular dishes. Muffin tops, pancake balls, French toast sticks and mini quiches are all examples of how to turn well-loved breakfast foods into smaller dishes.
Showcase Lighter Proteins
The filling aspect of some meats, such as pork and beef, may deter guests from purchasing protein-filled breakfast snacks. Try swapping better-for-you meats or plant-based items—such as turkey bacon, chicken sausage and tofu—in place of traditional breakfast proteins such as bacon and sausage.
Create a Portable Presentation
Sticks, cups, bowls, wraps and other portable formats will appeal to the nearly two-thirds of consumers (62%) who like to take their snacks on the go. This may include fruit kabobs, pancakes on a stick or yogurt parfait cups.
Highlighting flavors from popular breakfast items in drinks such as smoothies or coffees is one way to create craveable beverage snacks. Morning fare that translates well as a flavoring in liquid form includes cinnamon rolls, French toast and doughnuts.
Trend Spotlight: Second Breakfast
Some consumers are shunning big breakfasts in favor of a smaller morning meal followed by a second breakfast, which is another morning meal or snack that is eaten after breakfast but before lunch. Second breakfast is a traditional custom in places such as Bavaria, Poland and Hungary. A third of consumers (34%) agree they usually consume a second breakfast, with male, millennial and Hispanic consumers skewing highest for this response.
Market throughout the day
Breakfast snacks are gaining popularity as consumers’ busy on-the-go lifestyles force them to seek more portable options over plated breakfasts. Further, consumers continue to express interest in purchasing breakfast fare outside of morning hours. This is a prime opportunity for operators to promote a selection of craveable and better-for-you breakfast snacks throughout the day, including as a second breakfast and late-night munchie option.
Breakfast snacks beyond commercial
Although restaurants with breakfast menus are the most obvious fit for breakfast snacks, other operators should also consider how these offerings can benefit them. Noncommercial operations such as colleges and universities and K-12 programs can have fun with food by offering snacks with a breakfast twist to appeal to younger diners. Recreation facilities, which are known for their funky food formulations, may also take advantage of an item like breakfast snacks, such as breakfast pizza bites. And convenience-store and grocery operators are also well-positioned to add more breakfast snacks as they continue to grow their foodservice programs.
Keep innovation simple
Menuing breakfast snacks doesn’t need to be a challenge. Operators with breakfast can create snacks by reducing the portion size or changing the presentation of a dish. Even non-breakfast operators can easily craft breakfast snacks using common kitchen staples such as eggs, peanut butter and oats to make items like mini quiches and breakfast bars. And don’t forget liquids as viable breakfast snacks, which can open the door to any operator offering drinks such as coffee and smoothies to capture these snacking dollars.