Millennials are taking over the world. Okay, that's a bit extreme, but consumers aged 18 to 34, who have a population of 80 million strong and are expected to exceed Boomers in purchasing power by 2018, are certainly changing breakfast trends.
It's estimated that Millennials will fork over $65 million in grocery spending by 2020, and everyone from publicity-starved fast food chains seeking to make a splash–think freaky food items like Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco— to restaurants offering innovative menuing focused on fresh ingredients and sustainability, want a piece of the Millennial market.
Creating craveable, innovative breakfast dishes is the key to attracting Millennials. And so is keeping the day clockless. Millennials aren’t tied to traditional meal times; they prefer to eat whatever, whenever. The following food industry trends are the direct result of how Millennials are changing breakfast.
The Popularity of Food Trucks
A growing fleet of food trucks has besieged cities around the U.S. The food truck renaissance has become so trendy that, in 2013, The Daily Meal introduced its first-ever list of America’s best food trucks. These “moveable feasts” offer an unlimited menu of specializations, from pulled pork and mac and cheese to kimche stew and Korean barbecue.
According to IBISWorld, food trucks enjoyed 12.4% annual market growth between 2009 and 2014.
Food trucks have redefined the breakfast market, offering creative, edgy fare that is in stark contrast to McDonald’s Egg McMuffin or the numerous other breakfast sandwiches peddled by fast food chains.
Gourmet sandwiches featuring fresh, local ingredients are the norm street food fare. From design-your-own breakfast burritos to a brioche sandwich featuring a fried egg, pork belly, arugula and caper aioli, food trucks offer the creative diversity that appeals to Millennials
Customization is King
New research shows 80 percent of all consumers and 85 percent of Millennials say that the ability to customize food is the most important feature in choosing a place to eat.
Most breakfast sandwiches handed through the drive thru window are already customized. The consumer might choose to have an egg, sausage, and cheese sandwich, or he or she decides to skip the sausage. However, Millennials want more breakfast food options than that.
Younger consumers see food customization as a need and not a luxury.
Two-dollar, breakfast value meals don't allow much room for creativity, but if unique hybrids like Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco are any indication, food industry trends are changing. Seeing that Millennials want customized foods, operators are experimenting with their menus and developing new, customized concoctions.
The hybrid or Franken-food trend began when New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel created a little treat called the Cronut— a croissant and doughnut combination that lit up social media and took the world by storm. Since then, operators have been customizing all sorts of foods, trying to recreate a mash-up as successful as the Cronut.
The mash-up food market and the Millennial market go hand-in-hand, and one couldn’t exist without the other. How else to explain the bizarre rollouts that have inundated the food industry lately?
Glazed donut breakfast sandwiches, anyone?
The Blurring of Proteins
In keeping with Millennials’ habit of eating whatever, whenever, operators are creating more innovative menus by blurring proteins. New reports are in showing that, when consumers eat breakfast, they opt to begin their day with high-quality protein like eggs and meats instead of high-carb breakfasts. And many are going for non-traditional breakfast foods. After all, why shouldn’t they start with turkey or roasted chicken?
Thanks to eating the habits of Millennials, traditional foods no longer accompany traditional meal times.
When it comes to breakfast, food industry trends are changing. There is no longer a tried-and-true blueprint, and if operators want a piece of the $65 billion Millennials are projected to spend by 2020, then they’re going to bend their old school rules and adapt.