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Morning story

24 May, 2010
It seems that forecourt retailers need to work harder to attract breakfast shoppers
Page 59 

In its 'Eight tips to eating well' recommendations, the Food Standards Agency advises people not to skip breakfast. However, a recent survey conducted on behalf of yogurt brand Onken found that 64% of people sacrifice breakfast for extra time in bed or the chance to get to work earlier. The survey also revealed that it's men who miss breakfast the most, with 74% saying that lunch is their first meal of the day.

Many manufacturers cite breakfast as a sales opportunity for forecourt retailers, but it seems it's not an easy win.

Indeed research company Him spoke to 4,000 forecourt shoppers as part of its Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) 2010 and, of those, just 3% said they were there to buy something for their breakfast.

Max Jenvey, managing director of strategic marketing consultant, Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, believes some forecourt retailers are too complacent: "Sadly we see the same old bacon baps, sausage rolls and morning goods clearly these are some of the nation's favourites, but the great British public deserves a little more variety," he says.

Jenvey praises Pret a Manger for its breakfast offer: "If we could take half of what they do in the morning and transfer it into the forecourt sector we would see massive sales uplifts and happy customers. Think of porridge, yogurt with muesli or fresh berries, impulse savoury baguettes at the till egg & bacon or ham & cheese turnovers.

"In the forecourt sector, a good example of a well-presented and well thought-through offer can be found at Esso On The Run. There you are met with a mouth-watering display of freshly baked savoury pastries, with grab and go bacon baguettes that are freshly heated while you select your Costa coffee.

"The most important thing to get right is your coffee. Customers will forgive most things, but if you get their morning cup of coffee wrong the chances are they will not return."

For Jenvey, the other key factors in getting breakfast right are:

availability always an issue at busy times. He says: "Ensure more products are just about to land on your display as there's nothing worse than empty hot cabinets that say 'we really don't care'."

speed of service this is crucial as most of a forecourt's breakfast customers are on their way to work.

balancing waste verses sales Jenvey reckons that by monitoring your range carefully, hour by hour from 6am to 10am, retailers can overcome this issue.

overcoming menu fatigue. He says: "Yes, you should always have your core range in place but consider your 'frequent flyers'. For them, you need to try at least one or two specials every month considering your heavy users will visit your site at least 3.5 times per week you must reward their loyalty. Challenge your suppliers to create new offers such as combination deals, pastries with coffee and maybe something for later?"

According to Country Choice marketing controller, Stephen Clifford, the breakfast occasion can be divided into two areas the early breakfast and the mid-morning snack (which, for many people, is simply late breakfast). He says these two morning occasions can account for up to 30% of food-to-go sales, with lunch accounting for 50%-55%, and the balance taken up by late afternoon/early evening eating.

"Hot breakfast baps have a core customer base of manual workers in general, with 'white van man' and builders being good examples. So for forecourts near construction sites, industrial estates or on busy A-roads a hot breakfast offering is vital, and the earlier the start the better at least 7am if not before.

"Outlets that offer hot breakfasts will often get a reputation locally and quickly build up a loyal and regular customer base. And it's not just the breakfast bap that these customers will buy. Tea or coffee and a newspaper normally accompany the bap purchase."

The other side of breakfast is confectionery things like croissants and muffins. Clifford says both these product categories showed excellent growth in 2009. "That growth appeared to be driven in part by a trend towards all-day consumption, but also as an accompaniment to coffee at breakfast. A coffee and a croissant or muffin is, for many people, their regular breakfast, usually picked up on the way in to work. There is a slightly female bias to consumption and general popularity among office workers.

"Forecourts near offices or educational establishments often do a good trade in coffee and croissants/muffins starting pre-9am but extending to late morning for those consumers who choose to take breakfast later.

Of course, if you are offering a breakfast range you need to make sure your customers know about it. Lucy Overton, customer marketing manager at Bakehouse, advises retailers to use 'at pump' and 'at till' advertising space to promote breakfast bakery products. "You should also locate POS promoting breakfast deals on fixtures with other products which are bought in the morning such as newspapers, soft drinks and sandwiches."


What's new for breakfast?

l Total offers a range of breakfast baps as part of its Café Bonjour line-up. These include bacon, sausage and the All Day Breakfast bap which has bacon, sausage, a hash brown and fried egg inside.

l Tropicana has extended its single-serve range with the launch of two new 330ml varieties: extra juicy bits and red grape. The two varieties are already top sellers in the 1ltr format. Recommended retail price is £1.14. Meanwhile, Tropicana's current on-pack promotion 'Breakfast Club' gives consumers the chance to win five-star breakfasts at various exclusive worldwide destinations.

l New from Kraft Foods are Belvita Breakfast biscuits. They are rich in cereals, contain vitamins and are a source of fibre. The company says they have been a big sales success on the Continent. They come in a 50g pack of four biscuits for independents.

l Warburtons has launched an 800g Grained Farmhouse thick-sliced loaf. It is described as "a delicious blend of malted wheat, bran and barley". Rrp is £1.45.

l Kellogg's latest on-pack promotion cashes in on the football fever about to be generated by this month's World Cup. Feast of Football gives consumers the chance to win football prizes including replica shirts and soccer school lessons. And to tap into the continued growth of the Crunchy Nut brand, Kellogg's has just introduced a £2.85 price-marked Crunchy Nut Clusters pack featuring the promotion.