Do “Traditional Mealtimes” Hold Brands Back?

American consumers have a certain perception of the first meal of the day, and there is no doubt that many “breakfast” brands benefit from this. For example, Americans tend to reach for sweet products at breakfast more so than other meals, meaning that sugary and carb-heavy items (like yogurt and pastries) have an accepted place at the table. If we didn’t have this idea that breakfast = sweet, many of these items might be relegated to dessert exclusively.

This means that, understandably, brands that fall under this category might be hesitant to develop campaigns that suggest that their products might be a great snack. If they send the message that their products could be a dessert, it might backfire and turn consumers off of eating it for breakfast.

However, this line of thinking is a trap. Breakfast consumption is reportedly on the decline, with the average American only eating breakfast about three times a week. Meanwhile, according to Mintel, almost 75% of consumers say that they engage in A.M. snacking. While breakfast might be seen as the most important meal of the day, consumers have increasingly prioritized the ease and convenience of snacking.

Some brands are slowly breaking out of their mealtime molds. Kellogg’s, for example, has just released a line of cereal snack packs called “Jumbo Snax”. According to a study by competitor General Mills, as much as 30% of cereal consumption already comes from snacking, so it’s interesting to see Kellogg’s finally leaning into this statistic.

Of course, products like cereal bars have been around for years and are popular choices for snacking. But the branding around these lines has typically promoted them as ideal for breakfast-on-the-go; this push into snacking is one of the most explicit expansions beyond breakfast from any cereal manufacturer that we’ve seen.

Kodiak Cakes, famous for their protein-added pancake, waffle, and oatmeal products, has made similar growths into snacking with a new granola bar line. It’s noteworthy that despite the fact that protein is the cornerstone of the brand, the team at Kodiak Cakes chose to enter the granola category instead of launching grab-and-go protein bars. There could be many reasons for this decision, but it does seem to signal that industry leaders are viewing snacking as a more worthwhile area than products that are strictly functional or that revolve around a specific eating occasion.

There is a strong chance that many consumers could continue working from home permanently. If this happens, normal routines – including mealtimes – will only break down further and will find greater flexibility. In order to stay ahead, brands would benefit from diversifying their product lines beyond the traditional structures of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is the most obvious area for innovation, but brands across the board have an opportunity to satisfy consumers in novel ways – at any time of the day.


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