It’s not a myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Scientific research has shown that eating breakfast regularly is an important factor in academic performance and positive behavioral habits, setting the tone for the day.
But making time for breakfast can be a challenge—often, the intention to start the day with a home-cooked meal proves unrealistic. So the hungry student considers other options—such as a quick stop at the local c-store to grab a bite on the go.
A “Hot” Market
With the increasingly hectic nature of people’s lives, breakfast on the run has never been more popular. Research indicates that 33% of today’s consumers eat breakfast outside their homes on a regular basis. Many people, however, are looking for hot and decent-quality breakfast food in addition to the traditional cup of coffee—47 percent purchase hot breakfast items, and their choices often include healthier meals and snacks that are convenient to eat on the commute to work. Fewer and fewer commuters are opting for sit-down meals, instead choosing to grab a quick bite from a local c-store.
What’s For Breakfast?
Purchases of breakfast food items are undoubtedly on the rise, but unsurprisingly, it’s coffee sales that are the driving force behind most breakfast-oriented c-store visits. C-stores cannot hope to be competitive on the breakfast front without a dependable coffee service to build on. As a top industry professional recently remarked, “A prepared foods program without a solid coffee program to anchor it would not be successful.” But once customers have their coffee in hand, they typically select a breakfast sandwich to complement it. Sandwiches were the top breakfast entrée choice at c-stores in 2014, followed closely by warm bread items (45% of customers) and breakfast pizza, which enjoyed a 7.7% increase in menu call-outs over the past year. Interest in other, more ethnic menu items such as Mexican-infused breakfast dishes like morning burritos, remains high, with a 19% bump in sales.
The Convenience Factor
Perhaps the most promising aspect of the recent convenience breakfast boon is how few changes it requires c-stores to make in order to profit from it. New all-in-one appliances such as the MultiChef allow c-stores to bake, roast, reheat, toast, melt and steam foods, allowing for the addition of an entire menu’s worth of breakfast items with the purchase of just one piece of kitchen equipment. This in turn gives a c-store a chance to implement and promote a menu with real variety, helping to shed its associations with “gas station food.”
Finally, breakfast food purchases are driving c-stores forward because these sales are more profitable than those of fuel, tobacco or even beverages. NACS reports that foodservice items command a 57% profit margin, while the margin on non-foodservice items is only 27%. This, if nothing else, is sufficient evidence to expand c-store offerings!