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Merchandising the Morning


Waking up is hard enough to do on some days, so finding time for and choosing a good breakfast aren’t always easy for consumers. Accustomed to coffee drive-throughs and convenience stores on their way to work, most folks don’t think of the grocery store when they think of breakfast on the go.

But grocery retailers can garner interest in their breakfast offerings throughout their stores via innovative offerings and merchandising efforts.

One way to lure the morning crowd is by using the in-store deli, hot bar or grab-and-go case a bit earlier in the day to sell ready-to-eat breakfast foods. Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, for example, offers made-to-order breakfast sandwiches in its stores’ cafés, such as egg-and-cheese sandwiches with ham or bacon. Whole Foods Market, the Austin, Texas-based chain known for its hot foods at lunch and dinner, also offers hot breakfast choices for commuters and other shoppers, from oatmeal to pancakes to breakfast sausages. Standard Market, an upscale fresh-focused grocer with two locations in Chicago’s western suburbs, has its own in-store restaurant, the Standard Market Grill, with a full breakfast menu on weekends. The store attracts patrons only in search of breakfast, while others use morning at the Grill to kick of their grocery shopping. (Standard operates a Grill-only location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.)

In-store dining is a significant growth area for grocery retailers. According to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group’s study, “The Retail Prepared Foods Market: Assessing the Competition,” lunch traffic at retail grew 29 percent between 2008 and 2013, while breakfast traffic rose from 2 percent to 10 percent.

According to Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst for Chicago-based market research firm Mintel, breakfast can be a sweet spot for retailers’ prepared food departments and in-store foodservice. “The main draw of it is that the consumer doesn’t have to do any work — breakfast is fast and convenient,” he says.

With more consumers looking for fresh, better-for-you morning meals, including meals with eggs and meats, or oatmeal with grains and berries, grocers have another way to merchandise hot breakfast foods in-store. “I think retailers are capitalizing on the protein trend as consumers are looking to get more protein in their diets,” Seifer observes.

In addition to hot food bars, delis and in-store dining, retailers are finding other ways to more effectively merchandise breakfast foods. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer superstore chain created a Ready! For You meal-planning program that provides ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; ingredients and products are sold at a discount when purchased together. Meijer posts breakfast recipes for those meals on its website and on the popular Pinterest recipe-sharing site, with ideas and photos of dishes like Cheesy Baked Egg Toast, Orange ‘n Spice Overnight Oatmeal and Kiwi Banana Smoothie.

Using social media to provide ideas for morning meals is an emerging tactic in boosting awareness of, and interest in, breakfast foods. Traditional in-store breakfast promotions, from coupons to POS materials, also help rouse sales of breakfast products.

The American Egg Board, for its part, is continuing its efforts to educate consumers about its target product. The Park Ridge, Ill.-based trade group recently teamed up with actor Kevin Bacon in a new ad campaign aimed at sharing messages about the nutritional benefits of eggs.

“In the four weeks after we launched the Kevin Bacon campaign earlier this year, egg sales in dozens increased a whopping 15 percent versus the same period a year ago,” notes Kevin Burkum, the board’s SVP.

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