Breakfast at fast food restaurants getting more competitive

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

18 September 2013

Breakfast is the newest fast food battlefield

Turns out more of us are eating breakfast at fast food restaurants (or through the drive-thru) than we have in four years. New reports show that breakfast at Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) was up one percent in the second quarter, returning the market to 2009 levels.

“I bring this up because the breakfast market for QSRs is getting more and more competitive – and the data shows that there’s more at stake.”

It may be true that we all are preferring to eat our breakfast through a fast food restaurant because we are harried or some other reason, but I think is also something else in play: More restaurants are offering it.

cars-in-line-drive-thru for breakfastHear me out. In the absence of few meaningful brands, fast food preference is often determined by location. In recent years, though, those locations have increased as more QSRs have entered the market, meaning more choice and more “right side” of the street preference being accounted for. (Even some Taco Bells are serving breakfast.)

I bring this up because the breakfast market for QSRs is getting more and more competitive – and the data shows that there’s more at stake. All you have to do is tabulate how many of the fast food TV commercials are about breakfast rather than the other dayparts and you understand that QSRs are taking breakfast seriously. That’s because it is the only daypart that’s growing. Everything else is flat.

The fallout from this increased competition and usage is that fast food brands must look beyond menu and discounts to attract customers. Everyone has a biscuit. Everyone has a combo meal. Everyone has one of those fried potato thingies.

Instead, as restaurants pay more attention to this daypart, they will have to be more aggressive in their brand messaging. Otherwise, rotating menu items, changing prices and building more stores will be a never-ending cycle leading eventually to nowhere.

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