The State of Breakfast

Whatever happened to the most important meal of the day?  Breakfast may not be dead, but it may be on life support.  One of the staples of breakfast, cold cereal, is trying to make a comeback, too.

Research indicates there are four basic and specific reasons cereal is seeing a decline among consumers.  First, cereal is carrying a lot of baggage.  Manufacturers haven’t done a solid job of establishing cereal as a modern solution to the various wellness and dietary trends. Consumers are still eating cereal, just not as much of it.  One very important reason for the dip in consumption is that cereal is perceived as unhealthy. 

Second, cereal is losing its share of the market to other categories, such as produce, yogurt and frozen.  Consumers are shifting away from cereal due to some largely inaccurate claims that all cereal is made up of sugary empty calories. Another false statement is that consumers should avoid cereal-land altogether when they shop because the only things that dwell there are bad for you.  The truth is, manufacturers have reduced sugars, calories and sodium in RTE cereal and have increased the whole grains, fiber and vitamins and minerals.

The third reason that cereal has taken a decline is the perceived dollar value.  There is a perception that cereal is just too expensive despite evidence to the contrary. 

Finally, we are seeing a decline in the consumption of cereal at breakfast time because the cereal aisle is just too frustrating.  There are three main reasons why the cereal aisle is hard to shop. A) Consumers feel overwhelmed in the cereal aisle.  It is easier to skip the aisle rather than face the multitude of choices and the additional time necessary to make a purchase decision.  B)  The cereal aisle is organized based on outdated thinking.  They still put the good cereals on the level of their target demographic group, adolescents 3-5.  C)  A lack of signage and brand messaging makes the aisle monotonous for shoppers.

The changing times have affected the cereal market, too.  How many people gather around the table for a sit-down meal at breakfast?  There was a time when breakfast was served around 7:30 A.M. each day.  Now, breakfast is consumed sometime from 5:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.

In closing, this writer acknowledges that very few people actually skip breakfast, their breakfast has become mobile.  The Norman Rockwell concept of the big breakfast table with the family all gathered to start the day, ain’t happening.  Maybe we can convert that cereal aisle to a coffee bar.  Yeah, maybe.

Just as very few people will skip breakfast, ain't nobody going to skip the supermarket.  Sooner or later, they are going to choose one.  We can help you make it your supermarket they choose.

- Most of the information shared in this article came from a white paper prepared by researchers at Post Cereal.