The latest breakfast trends favor hand-held foods for busy people, and even full-service breakfasts, brunches and all-you-can-eat buffets are enjoying unprecedented growth. Gourmet food trucks have helped to generate interest in nontraditional but sophisticated foods that people can carry and eat while commuting. The United States is experiencing more consumer interest in Latin, Southwestern and Asian flavors that are appearing on breakfast menus.

Millennial Spin on Breakfast’s Traditional Mantra

For generations, nutritionists have advised people that breakfast is the most important meal. Millennials are taking the advice, but they look for greater breakfast options such as later hours, breakfasts all day, ethnic ingredients and gourmet options and healthier ingredients and preparation techniques. Sriracha hot sauce on breakfast sandwiches has become incredibly popular, and consumers embrace breakfasts with hot smoked sausages, chorizo and spicy Asian flavors.

Breakfast Trends

Millennials, busy IT workers and even baby boomers often prefer food trucks for breakfast, especially those operations that offer signature spins on breakfast foods. These customers look for egg-white sandwiches, fusion specialties and nontraditional breakfast foods. A convenient location is also important, and food trucks often park in highly desirable spots where urban workers can grab breakfast in transit.

Restaurateurs can mirror that experience for customers by setting up kiosks, taking breakfast orders from mobile devices and offering fast, uncomplicated transactions that include allowing customers to prepay for their orders.

About 39 percent of the breakfast market is people who like to socialize at breakfast. These customers include retirees, early risers and older workers who might only eat breakfast away from home. Restaurants can attract these diners by offering buffets or lots of choices.

Healthier Foods

Fresh and healthy have replaced the traditional staples of sugar, protein and carbohydrates. Many customers are replacing calories and caffeine with fresh herbs, spicy chili peppers and locally sourced fruits and in-house processed meats. Although many people are cutting carbs and gluten, diners continue to love pastries, biscuits and breads. However, diners prefer baked goods made fresh with whole grains and minimal preservatives.

Longer Breakfast Hours

Breakfast foods have become so popular with consumers that many chain stores are now offering breakfast or extending their service hours. Taco Bell and Wendy’s have begun serving breakfast, and McDonald’s is researching the idea of extending breakfast hours.

Breakfast generally consists of some of diners’ most loved comfort foods. Longer breakfast hours allow customers to enjoy breakfast on their own schedules, which often have little to do with the food but make an emotional connection. Millennials prefer to eat exactly what they want at any time of day.

Breakfast Trends Generate Restaurant Opportunities

Restaurants can use the increasing demand for breakfast choices to strengthen sales and customer loyalty. Some research is necessary, but the results can prove astonishingly lucrative. The Millennial generation wants breakfast available 24/7 at restaurants and off-site locations. Lovers of comfort foods want classic breakfasts, but restaurateurs can reimagine many of these dishes using healthier ingredients, locally sourced foods and creative substitutions.

Analyzing How Customers’ Food Preferences Change During the Day

Understanding how customers’ tastes change during the day provides valuable information for restaurateurs. People who enjoy fast foods in the morning might want more leisurely lunches and dinners. Diners who typically enjoy a full breakfast might grab a snack for lunch and eat a healthy but lighter dinner. Customers’ food preferences change throughout the day, and some people prefer breakfast foods at all hours. Different demographic sectors tend to favor certain breakfast foods and eating trends. Examples include:

  • Almost all segments want greater choices in coffees and beverages.
  • People who prefer cold breakfasts usually order baked goods from restaurants during breakfast hours.
  • Busy people who would likely prefer a sit-down breakfast tend to order breakfast sandwiches.
  • Commuters like to eat at quick-service restaurants for breakfast.
  • Creative types and entrepreneurs often want breakfast all day or unusual foods like hamburgers and breakfast pizzas.

Judging a customers’ preferences depends on gathering accurate intelligence. Restaurant loyalty programs, social media surveys and in-house information about buying habits and website behavior help restaurateurs make educated guesses about the breakfast foods that their customers would most enjoy.

Some customers focus on value and portability, some on location convenience and others on full-service variety, healthy choices or gourmet preparations. Other information that restaurateurs can get from analytics includes:

  • Profiles of the typical customer’s weekday and weekend eating habits
  • The categories of eaters that customers fall into
  • What hours customers prefer to eat breakfast
  • Whether customers like traditional breakfast foods, healthier items or gourmet fusion and ethnic cuisines
  • The best promotional forums for reaching like-minded consumers
  • How likely that an off-site location would generate strong breakfast revenue

Fusion applications, sophisticated sandwiches, healthy breakfast foods and bolder flavors are leading breakfast’s resurgence in the restaurant industry, and the market is far from saturated. Restaurants can use the latest trends along with analytics intelligence to craft stronger breakfast-marketing strategies. Regardless of whether a restaurant takes a healthy, convenient, extended-hours or spicy-foods approach to breakfast, the results of thoughtful menu planning and marketing are well worth the effort.