Pushing to fuel a pandemic breakfast resurgence

Amid statistics suggesting that the way in which consumers eat breakfast is evolving, major brands are launching high-octane breakfast marketing campaigns.

They include Kellogg Canada, which is kicking off a decade-long marketing campaign as part of a strategy to get more consumers eating at the start of the day again.

The “We’re For Breakfast” initiative focuses on how options such as Kellogg’s cereals offer the nutritional benefits — high protein and fibre, low sugar and whole grains — that people need in the morning to have a good, productive day.

“We all know intuitively that a great day starts with a great breakfast, but, too often, we let it take a backseat to all the things we need to do,” said Christine Jakovcic, vice-president marketing and nutrition at Kellogg Canada Inc. “We’re on a mission to get the country to rediscover the value in a nutritious start to the day, by celebrating everything a Kellogg’s breakfast can do and the important role it plays in nourishing people’s days.”

Meanwhile, Wendy’s is ramping up its breakfast advertising spend as it tries to grab a bigger share of the lucrative market. The fast-food chain plans to spend $25 million on advertising its morning food in 2021.

Wendy’s marketing strategy will centre around encouraging new customers to try its breakfast items and visit Wendy’s earlier in the day. “We really want to be there as morning routines start to get reestablished as we get into the fall,” CEO Todd Penegor said.

A changing perception

Breakfast habits had been changing before the pandemic, with 2019 data revealing that nearly 42 per cent of Canadians said they were not eating breakfast every day.

Like so much in foodservice, though, the pandemic has dramatically altered things. When it comes to breakfast, the result has been something of a resurgence.

Earlier in the pandemic, some North American chains like Tim Hortons and McDonald’s scaled back their morning menu offerings. However, as more and more people continue to work from home, the extra time gained back by Canada’s workforce appears to have translated into more people eating breakfast.

Breakfast consumption at home has increased by 5.7 per cent over the past year, said Jakovcic, citing Ipsos FIVE data. Other stats support this conclusion, such as Egg Farmers of Canada’s report that one in three Canadians is eating more eggs now compared to last year.

Meanwhile, Wendy’s breakfast sales in Q2 2021 were up 10 per cent on Q1. “We continue to see very strong customer repeat and high customer satisfaction after people try our breakfast,” Penegor said, adding that he expected breakfast sales to continue growing in the second half of 2021.

More creativity

Having more time to prepare is also driving consumer interest in new flavours and creative preparation techniques. “When you’re at home more, there’s more time to cook at a higher quality level,” says Marty Weintraub, partner, national retail leader at Deloitte Canada. “We’re seeing this rise of the epicurean home chef.”

Sarah Caron, director of marketing and nutrition for Egg Farmers of Canada, noted that breakfast boards and platters are one way in which consumers have gotten more creative with morning meals. “They’re really popular among both millennials and gen Z. It’s basically a collection of various foods — proteins, pastries, fruits and veggies — all displayed on this beautiful large serving board.”

Health also continues to be a key factor in consumer breakfast choices. “Canadians know that eggs are an affordable source of protein and really part of an overall nutritious diet,” Caron added.

Meal kits and boxes are also a potential area of opportunity to be further explored, predicted Weintraub. “Right now, [meal kits] are pointed at dinner and maybe lunch, but no one has really touched breakfast yet. I would hypothesize that breakfast is maybe the next meal to be disrupted by some of these behaviours.”

Caron suggested that grocers can also jump on that train by launching prepackaged breakfast boxes. Similarly, Jakovcic suggests grocers can also help inspire customers with breakfast-themed displays that highlight different products together such as cereals, milk, juice, coffee, yogurt and fruit.

It is unclear how and to what extent this apparent shift will persist in post-pandemic life. But, with much of Canada’s workforce likely to remain working from home even as facilities reopen, it seems likely that the way in which consumers think about their first meal of the day is changing for the foreseeable future.