Breakfast is hot and ready. No, really, it is. Ready to take over the food industry, that is. Traditional mealtime-food pairings don't mean a heap of beans anymore. Eggs for dinner. Salad for breakfast. Beetroot chocolate cake for dessert?!? There are no rules anymore.
Why? Millennial foodies—those non-conforming young adults who are always on the lookout for the next great food experience—that's why. Millennials have spearheaded an increased demand for unique and flavorful breakfast foods anytime, anywhere, anyhow. And the movement toward snackification has made breakfasting easier than ever before.
No more must a person sit down to a plate of fried eggs, bacon, toast and juice. A bowl of sugary cereal with milk? Not healthy. Not organic. Not exciting. Not portable. So that's right out.
But a bacon-encrusted donut? A Breakfast CrunchWrap? This is madness.
At What Point Do We Reach "Peak Breakfast?"
As food companies surf the crest of the breakfast and snackification waves, though, one must wonder if the market will become oversaturated.
This week, for example, McDonald's showed cracks in its venerable breakfast availability wall. Remember when getting an Egg McMuffin meant waking up at 9:45 on a Saturday and making a mad dash to the nearest Mickey D's, where you hoped against hope that the line would be short enough and the service would be fast enough to squeak in under the chain's hard-and-fast 10 am deadline?
Well, those days may be waning. Faced with increasing AM competition from new entrants like Taco Bell, the revamped Dunkin' Donuts, and extended breakfast menu times at White Castle and other competitors—and even 24-7 breakfast sandwich availability at Tim Horton's—McDonald's announced that it is willing to experiment with extended breakfast hours.
In the coming month, it will test all-day breakfast (!) at select locations in the San Diego market. Yes, the chain that once consistently maintained that its grill surfaces were too small to allow breakfast and lunch items to be cooked concurrently will now be doing just that.
Breakfast Snack Packs Are Here. Prepare Yourself.
Maybe peak breakfast is here. Already we've seen food giants like Kraft trying to cash in on the snackified breakfast trend.
Late last year, Kraft launched a new line of Breakfast Lunchables (Because "Breakfastables" would have sounded awkward? Still, this is strange marketing. "Brunchables" would have better, Kraft. Yes, we're available for branding consultations).
The Breakfast Lunchables lineup includes Cinnamon Roll Dippers, Pancake and Bacon Dippers, or Waffle and Bacon Dippers. There's no heating required—the bacon accents are provided by Kraft sister brand Oscar Mayer's Bacon Bits—and each approximately 3-ounce Breakfast Lunchable packet provides between 230 to 300 calories.
Millennials are value conscious—and Breakfast Lunchables' suggested retail price of $1.59 per packet certainly speaks to that—but are they willing to trade off healthy and sustainably-sourced for cheap? That remains to be seen.
The Breakfast Invasion Is Here. Will You Join It, Or Buck The Trend?
Snackification has unquestionably changed the market—opening the door to a greater variety of smaller-portioned food products and increased flavor experimentation—but food companies must still rely on rigorous consumer research and product testing to stay ahead of the pack.
They also need to remember that, despite being cost-conscious, many Millennial consumers can and will demand healthy products. They’ll demand transparency in ingredient lists, in sourcing, in preparation and in marketing. They’ll demand real-ness.
Food companies are always looking for an angle. It's increasingly important—especially with Millennial consumers in the driver's seat—to differentiate from one's competitors. If your breakfast-inspired products aren't exciting, authentic and easy to eat on the go, they risk going the way of Nut 'n' Honey.