Breakfast Motivations Differ by Age and Gender

“Different strokes for different folks” applies when it comes to breakfast food and beverage choices, according to a study conducted by The NPD Group, which finds that the motivations driving morning food and beverage choices vary by age and gender.

NPD’s Morning MealScape study asked the question, “Why did you eat or drink what you did this morning?” Men 18 years and older reported they are seeking to save money and watch their diet for things they’re trying to avoid, while women of that age cite losing weight most often.

The study, which deep dives into the morning meal and snack occasions and marries the attitudinal with behavioral motivations to reveal the “whys” behind morning selections, also finds that for kids under 13 it’s all about having something they like. The same is true for teens but foods that look good have more importance with this age group.

“Food manufacturers interested in connecting their products with consumers in the morning should align product benefits with consumer needs,” said study author Dori Hickey, NPD director of product development. “Understanding the why behind food and beverage selections provides the knowledge to message to your consumer targets in a way that resonates with their individual motivations.”

The top one and two most consumed morning meal food choices — cross age and gender — are cold cereal and fruit, respectively, but the choices after these two items vary by age group and gender, according to NPD’s National Eating Trends, which continually tracks all aspects of U.S. consumers’ eating behaviors. Scrambled eggs are next on the list for kids; males 18 years and older choose a banana; and females 18 and up opt for hot cereal. Many of the same foods are selected by the gender and age groups but rank differently in terms of most frequently consumed.

“The morning meal is a growing but fragmented meal occasion,” Hickey said. “For food manufacturers and retailers to operate successfully in this meal space, they need to understand the ‘why’ behind consumers’ morning meal behaviors.”

NPD’s Morning MealScape study included 27,179 participants, both adults and children (parents answered on behalf of their children, age 2-5).

The NPD Group helps clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising and other functions.

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