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Making the most of breakfast: six points to consider

Updated: Jun 30

Following a focus on the breakfast mission in our recent webinar, Food Futures Insights’ Gavin Rothwell and RATIONAL’s Benjamin Nothaft call out their top considerations for success.


Understand your customer, localise the offer


Breakfast is a really interesting mission to target, as consumption patterns, the traditional size of the meal and the nature of it can vary significantly. That, more than ever, means localising the offer by market is key. It doesn’t mean you can’t push the boundaries, but understanding the core customer you are working with is key.


Think about the role you want breakfast to play in your business model and proposition

This point isn’t ours originally, it’s from Yoghurt Barn’s Wouter Staal, who joined us on the webinar. But we liked it so much we decided to put it at the heart of our guidance as well. It’s particularly relevant at the current time, when many are looking to rebuild trade and adopting a variety of routes to do so. The key question here is what do you want from doing breakfast - there’s a cost involved from the staffing as well the product perspective, so consider whether you’re using it to drive footfall and loyalty among your existing customer base, attract new customers to your broader proposition or if you want it to be a self-standing profit centre in its own right.


From there differentiate

Of course, one option for breakfast is to simply offer a range of pastries for the grab and go consumer. And many do this, to the extent that in some places, the offer comes across as lacking significant differentiation between outlets. And don't get us wrong - we are big fans of grab and go pastries, it's just that we also think there's an opportunity to go beyond this and to create standout impact in the breakfast space. On our safaris, we’ve seen a wide range of different ways to target breakfast, with meal deals, specific cuisines, specific diets and a range of other targeting tactics employed. One theme that has come through however is that hot food can be a significant aid to differentiation - and help localisation of the offer as well.


Balance health & indulgence - offer choice, and consider flexing your offer by time of week

For many outlets targeting the food-to-go breakfast that the customer group will be broad. These outlets will need a range of products to target that breadth, crossing healthier and more indulgent needs for example. Being strict in adding new lines is however important, as each extra line adds extra complexity.


And reflect on how that customer group’s priorities and requirements will shift through the week - the ideal menu balance between health and indulgence on a Monday will rarely be the same as it is on a Friday. Plus, if you’ve weekend traffic interested in breakfast, that presents a different mission as well, where you’ll want to make the most of your seating area, if you have one, and perhaps create a different type of ambience in-store.

Get the right coffee proposition in place

Coffee is key to many morning missions. And increasingly, with consumers still reluctant to step inside more shops and businesses than they absolutely have to, more are likely to look for one stop solutions for their breakfast needs. If you’re used to forecourts, this might come as no surprise. But consider UK cities for example, where consumers may have previously gone to one place for their coffee and perhaps the neighbouring convenience store for the rest of their breakfast. This behaviour may change, as they look to consolidate their breakfast mission more often into a single site. If you don’t have a strong coffee offer in place, it will often not be your site that is chosen.

Get the service proposition right

Service has long meant many different things, and in fact is often a combination of factors. In the current environment this is true more than ever. Having the right hygiene factors in place now forms a critical part of this. And with social distancing limiting the number of people able to be in any store at any time, so too does technology that enables customers to order and pay in advance, reducing the time they need to spend in-store. The likes of Leon, Yoghurt Barn and Freshly Chopped - among many others - have rapidly rolled out online ordering capability over recent months to great effect. Clearly this also helps in meeting the broader key requirement at breakfast - speed of service. But don’t forget the personal touch and making your guests feel welcome. Consumers will undoubtedly return most frequently to those sites that make them feel welcome, after a period of enforced isolation or at least limited contact.

Where to look for inspiration?


For Benjamin, Henderson’s, which operates SPAR stores in Northern Ireland, is a key example of an operator that does a great job at breakfast. Gavin’s top picks that he uses to help his safari customers try understand the breakfast mission and the surrounding opportunity are Dublin and London, with breakfast done very well by convenience retailers in particular in Ireland and a range of focused food-to-go specialists effectively targeting this mission in London.


Want to find out more about RATIONAL’s solutions? Contact Benjamin (b.nothaft@rational-online.com) for more information. RATIONAL's food-to-go hub can be found here, where you can sign up to our next webinar on July 7.

Want more information about how Food Futures Insight’s safari programme helps businesses unlock food-to-go and retail inspiration? Contact Gavin (gavin@foodfuturesinsights.com) to learn more.


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