Friday, April 23, 2021

Mindful Breakfasting Innovation Opportunities


Photo source: The California Milk Advisory Board

The concept of mindful snacking became mainstream a few years before COVID-19 disrupted our lives. The pandemic moved it into high gear as more folks founds themselves nibbling throughout the day of their new-norm office and classroom. 

Mindful snacking is all about choosing better-for-you foods as mini meals, rather than traditional snacks from years ago, which tended to be high-carb, high-fat, nutrient-void treats. Now let me introduce you to mindful breakfasting. But first, some wise words to ponder as we move into the post-pandemic phase of life.

“Health is a state of complete mental, social and physical well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” World Health Organization, 1948

A healthful breakfast helps with all five states. That’s why it is often called the most important meal of the day.

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) recognizes that the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the morning meal. The CAB has introduced an array of marketing campaigns showcasing the importance of dairy and quality protein for breakfast. During August and September, for example, there was a back-to-school “Mornings Mean More” retail flashpoint with fluid milk in the spotlight. And in October, the CMAB rolled out two “:30 Day Can Wait segments.” You can view “Video Conference” HERE and “Emails” HERE.

The commercials focus on the importance of taking a moment with family for breakfast before the hustle, bustle and technology of the day begins. Produced by Deutsch LA, the spots graphically showcase the digital distractions that often start in the early mornings, from email notifications to ringing phones and video calls, compared with the satisfying and calming elements of enjoying California dairy for breakfast.

“Despite breakfast being the most important meal of the day, it often gets lost in the rush of morning and all of our pending commitments,” says John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “With more people working remotely, recent findings showcase that breakfast is back. With dairy at the heart of many breakfast items, Real California Milk continues to help families make mornings mean more with California milk and dairy foods.” 

This is breakfast messaging that dairy processors across the country need to communicate. It also invites innovation.

A few weeks ago I shared insights from Chris Riddell, an innovation and futurist speaker from Australia. It is appropriate to reemphasize them now as it relates to breakfast innovation. 

“You cannot have a finite mindset [in the way you approach your business],” he said. “Innovation is no longer a luxury.”

He explained that we now live in a non-linear world, as no one stays in their lane anymore. And, if you are staying in your lane to maintain legacy—the way it was always done—you will not make it. 

It is time to reinvent experiences that consumers crave. This includes the breakfasts they might have been enjoyed at the coffee shop after dropping kids off at school, dashboard dining through a drive-thru or the office building buffet.

Breakfast during the pandemic is decidedly central to how consumers boost their resilience, and consequently it’s become more complex, according to The Hartman Group. 

“Even before the pandemic, we were noting some distinct characteristics and shifts within the breakfast occasion, namely, that health needs tended to be more elevated at breakfast relative to other dayparts, with consumers focusing on sustained energy and an overall desire for breakfast to ‘do more,’” said Danielle Kanter, a consultant with The Hartman Group, during the recent podcast “Breakfast: Reliably Routine and Becoming More Complex.” “Fast forward through the effects of the pandemic, and breakfast has taken on several characteristics that include a heightened need for convenience, as consumers report that ‘busyness’ has actually increased with their hectic work/life schedules during COVID-19.”

Along with another Hartman Group consultant—Abby Cullinan—the two discussed how needs that relate to health and wellness, such as an increased desire for fresh and less processed, and moderation have increased significantly during breakfast occasions as consumers look to proactively support their health and immunity with food and beverage choices. You can listen to the 11-minute podcast HERE.

The two explained how health needs are more elevated at breakfast than any other daypart, presenting innovation opportunities for dairy processors to target the morning meal. Consumers might need it spelled out to them, too. Don’t shy away from marketing specific dairy foods as being powerhouse products to jump start the day. 
“Morning occasions like breakfast and early-morning snacks are much more likely to be focused on health, a focus that declines throughout the day,” said Kanter. 

Breakfast has become the most routine meal of the day. Many consumers have finite options on hand that provide convenient, sustained energy without feeling the pressure to cook. Moderation is paramount with the convenience factor, so single-serve units are desirable. Consumers are looking for just enough fuel to get them settled into their day.  

Jon Nudi, president-North America Retail for General Mills identified three food trends that will likely stick post-pandemic. (See infographic.) He believes that more time at home will be an ongoing part of consumer routines, which means there are more opportunities for at-home eating. 
Recognizing the room to play in this space, Chicago-based Dutch Farms Inc., has entered the refrigerated egg bites category. The company jumped out of its lane and is using sous vide technology to produce its new egg bites. This culinary technique involves vacuum-sealed food that is immersed in water and cooked at a precise, consistent temperature to lock in flavor. Milk, cheese and eggs are the dominant ingredients. 

Need some innovation inspiration? MilkPEP is here to help. The education program funded by U.S. milk companies and dedicated to educating consumers and increasing consumption of fluid milk, is getting ready to roll out “You’re Gonna Need Milk For That (YGNMFT). The new marketing campaign is bolder than ever before. This extensive program comes with a lot of details and information. To ensure you know all the ways to leverage YGNMFT for your brands, MilkPEP is hosting a deep-dive workshop on its do’s and don’ts.

At the “Bringing YGNMFT To Life” webinar on April 29th at 1:30pm EDT, presenters will highlight toolkit assets and how to use them; examples of logo and layout management, digital, social, packaging and more; and powerful new ways to talk about milk, including USDA-approved messaging.
Register HERE.

Breakfast is back! Be part of the morning ritual. 

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