There are rich pickings for food makers focusing on innovative products for the breakfast market, as a UK think tank finds less than one in five consumers actually enjoys the first meal of the day.
Convenience and variety should play a key role in development projects, as the survey by UK group IGD reveals that nearly fifty per cent of consumers spend ten minutes, or less, preparing and eating breakfast.
But more than this: opportunities for product innovation can focus on areas that add 'enjoyment' to the breakfast foods.
"With 78 per cent of people not associating an 'enjoyment' of food to their current breakfasts, there is a huge potential for product innovation," comments authors of the report, IGD.
Against the backdrop of an archly competitive retail market, food makers are obliged to constantly invest in new brand ideas, and more commonly, line extensions.
Building on the success of an existing brand, line extensions can offer greater gains for less investment, and consequently less risk, than the decision to opt for a totally new concept.
A recent article in Danish financial paper Borsen suggests that the size of the company determines spending on R&D. Danone and Nestlé spend between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent of their annual sales on R&D; smaller companies commonly allocate more than four per cent.
But a growing trend sees food makers increasingly turning to ingredients suppliers, particularly at the pre-development stage, to provide input into R&D; commonly known as outsourcing.
IGD suggests that, extensions or new concepts, opportunities exist for the breakfast market.
"Shoppers want breakfast to be simple, in format and in taste. Products already familiar, such as continental style and flavoured breads associated with lunch or dinner and sweet breads associated with tea time can be easily targeted at breakfasts," writes IGD.
The key is to help shoppers make the connection with breakfast in store by using in-store and on-pack communications, they add.
Not only this: the researchers suggest that product developers could focus on two distinctive aspects of the market - weekday and weekend - to increase product variety.
Whereas convenience and on-the-go will dominate products during the week, at the weekend people want to have a more pampered breakfast experience.
"IGD found that the amount of people eating cooked breakfasts quadruples at the weekend and people want more indulgent foods."
But despite the findings from this latest survey on 1000 consumers, and a host of focus groups, recent figures from Datamonitor suggest that breakfast is the meal most likely to be skipped.
UK consumers are already more likely than their European counterparts to miss breakfast: in 2003, British skipped on average 113 breakfasts a year per person, and Datamonitor forecasts this will increase to almost 120 in 2008.
New product design, and line extensions, will not only have to meet convenience and 'enjoyment' needs, but also rein in consumers that have long decided to slice breakfast out of their daily routine.