Restaurant chains looking to build morning daypart sales should add better-for-you options to their menus, and look for ways to improve convenience, according to a new consumer survey by market research firm Mintel.
Chicago-based Mintel projects an industrywide 4.1-percent increase in total breakfast sales in 2011. It also found that two-thirds of restaurant goers say they want more healthful breakfast options and 50 percent said convenience is an important factor in selecting a breakfast spot.
The survey was conducted in October 2010, and included a sample of 2,000 adults over the age of 18 years with access to the Internet.
Breakfast has been a bright spot for restaurants in recent years and a growing number of chains have been competing aggressively for the morning customer. Quick-service players that are expanding or testing new breakfast menus include Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway. McDonald’s, Starbucks and Jamba Juice have been waging war with the offer of oatmeal, a relatively healthful trendy option.
According to Mintel’s survey, 66 percent of restaurant goers said they are interested in more healthful breakfast options. Another 39 percent of respondents said morning menu selections at their local dining spots are too unhealthy.
Regardless of the day of the week, consumers who eat breakfast out of the home — 39 percent on weekdays and 40 percent on weekends — said the most important factor in selecting a restaurant is the healthfulness of menu options, the survey found.
“The demand for better-for-you options will likely continue as menu-labeling laws go into effect,” said Eric Giandelone, Mintel’s director of foodservice research. “Once customers see how much fat and calories are in their favorite breakfast foods, they will be more inclined to try a healthier alternative, and restaurant operators should adjust their menus accordingly.”
Convenience also is a factor for the morning meal, the survey said.
During the week, 43 percent of restaurant users said they rarely have time to eat breakfast at home, but another 50 percent said it’s too time consuming to stop at a restaurant in the morning.
“Convenience clearly is a significant factor; everyone’s time is precious in the morning. And, of course, cost continues to be a concern,” Giandelone said. “In a perfect world, restaurants will want to focus development efforts on how to provide patrons with easy, healthy and flavorful breakfasts that are not cost prohibitive. Or at least target some of those points.”
Mintel found that during the week breakfast sandwiches are the most popular choice, selected by 42 percent of restaurant goers. On weekends, platter meals are the favorite, chosen by 43 percent.
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