In the endless blur of restaurant concepts vying for market share among millennial dining enthusiasts, bringing meaty differentiating factors to the table is a must.
Breakfast and morning snacks are on a roll, serving up the sunny side of the foodservice business. In fact, according to the research firm NPD Group, it’s the only daypart that’s growing.1 With a one percent rise in restaurant traffic for the year ended February 18, breakfast seems to be hatching fresh opportunities at a time when lunch has been flat and dinner down a percentage point.1
If a one-percent rise in traffic seems like a slim slice of success, consider that breakfast is expanding rapidly beyond the morning daypart. Thirty-percent of consumers surveyed are purchasing breakfast items during later dayparts more often than they did two years earlier, according Technomic, a foodservice research and planning firm.2
Americans are sweet on snacks—so much so, according to the market research firm Nielsen, they consumed over 92 billion dollars’ worth last year across the top seven categories.1 While salty snacks have the most sales to savor at $27.72 billion, candy came in second ($20.96 billion), cookies fourth ($7.36 billion) and ice cream fifth ($6.64 billion).1
Technomic, a foodservice-focused research and consulting firm, attributes the popularity of savory flavors to the tendency of American consumers to favor meat, grains, vegetables and cheeses.2 Technomic data indicates that they may view these as better-for-you profiles with lower sugar content.2
As the grab-and-go foodservice trend continues to take hold of busy millennials, the definition of snacking seems to shift further from between-meal treat to convenient meal replacement. Recent survey results show that 92% of millennials eat snacks as meals at least once a week, 50% four times a week and 26% a minimum of seven times a week.1
With close to 40% of millennial survey participants saying a sit-down meal is too time-consuming and 17% “can’t be bothered to cook a meal,” speed and convenience are key reasons for the snack-as-meal-substitute phenomenon.1 Snacks present a low-cost, smaller portioned food solution that fits their active lifestyles. Nearly half rank convenience as the most important factor in choosing a snack.2
Limited-time offers have gone a long way for a long time, and foodservice operators continue to get a lot of mileage out of them as go-to business boosters.
Donuts are on the rise. Though a longtime traditional staple of the breakfast daypart, they’re sweetening sales numbers at later hours too with endless varieties and flavor combinations. Innovative donut shops and donut-driven foodservice operations are baking big business across the country, and U.S. retail sales are soaring.1
In-store bakery sales are on the rise—so much so, sales exceeded $13.54 billion in 2015 and the market is expected to reach $18.4 billion in sales by 2020, a 45% jump over the course of a decade.1 Confidence among retailers is high, with 56% of those surveyed reporting that they consider in-store bakeries a leading driver of traffic and an important point of differentiation for their stores and the way they market to consumers.2
Given the insatiable millennial appetite for exciting new flavor experiences and interesting twists on traditional favorites, a fresh idea in ice cream should be milked for all it’s worth—and it could be worth a lot. According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), about 1.54 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in 2015 alone, and the average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream yearly.1
"Consumers today, especially millennials, are eager to spread the word about new dessert experiences."