Homeworking has changed breakfast habits and continues to do so as Covid restrictions ease – but analysts at GlobalData argue consumers still want convenience even if they aren’t commuting.

The recent changes in consumer behaviour around meal times, and breakfast time in particular, are creating new opportunities for brands to increase market share with targeted products. The ‘new normal’ is still affecting consumers’ lifestyles even if lockdown has, or is beginning to, ease and is therefore continuing to underpin buying habits that first emerged in the early days of the pandemic.

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While more consumers are starting to commute again into work, adapting to new routines and social distancing measures, many are still working from home.

According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 Recovery Week 4 consumer survey, nearly a third (32%) of consumers globally claim they are working from home instead of the office. It is vital product developers and marketeers focus not only on foods that accommodate the at-home breakfast occasion but also emphasise convenience to target those working from home, who, even without the daily commute, can still face busy mornings.

According to the same survey by GlobalData, almost a quarter (23%) of global consumers claimed they have bought more bakery and cereal items to eat at breakfast since the onset of Covid-19. Breakfast items such as cereal offer relative convenience for working-at-home consumers, being easy and quick to prepare, and are, in many cases, replacing the on-the-go options that may have been consumed pre-pandemic during commuting periods or in the office.

When Kellogg reported its second-quarter results last month, the US giant saw the benefit of these changes in lifestyles and therefore eating habits. Kellogg reported a 16% rise in consumption of its cereal in the US during the second quarter. “We are also excited about the consumer trial and rediscovery we are seeing from new and lapsed users in cereal,” Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane told investors and analysts on 30 July. “Household penetration continued to rise sequentially and year-over-year in quarter two. We’re not only growing consumption faster than the category but we’re also increasing household penetration faster than the category.”

Staying in the US, Kraft Heinz has been targeting the reshaped breakfast market with limited-edition changes to the packaging of its Mac & Cheese. After seeing a rise in the number of times US shoppers were served their kids Mac & Cheese for breakfast, the company put the word “breakfast” on the packaging instead of “dinner” and offered consumers the chance to win a “breakfast box” for their children.

Kraft Heinz’s packaging was temporary and was part of a charitable campaign for Feed the Children. However, it underlined how breakfast habits have been reshaped due to Covid-19, with parents reaching for Mac & Cheese due to the ease of preparation and the manufacturer, in its marketing, was highlighting a change in how one of its products was being used. 

Even as lockdown conditions ease, the almost emergency working patterns introduced in March for many white-collar employees remain in place and, even once (we hope) a vaccine is implemented worldwide, the way we work might have changed for good, with more working from home more often.

Therefore, the changes to how consumers have been eating breakfast in recent months may also persist, offering long-lasting opportunities for product developers and marketeers. But they must remember convenience will still be an important driver of the breakfast occasion – even for those working at home.