Published on: May 14, 2014by Kate McMahon
The fast food breakfast brawl is sizzling like sausage on a hot griddle, across the country and on social media.
Consider these most recent developments:
• Taco Bell launched a breakfast menu starring the much-anticipated Waffle Taco, and its ad and Twitter campaign took direct aim at category leader McDonald’s.
• McDonald’s dished it right back on Twitter, offered a free morning cup of McCafe for two weeks and started promoting its McGriddle pancake wrapped breakfast sandwich.
• Starbucks introduced four new breakfast sandwiches created by its La Boulange bakery division, including a savory spinach and sun-dried tomato on ciabatta and a lower-calorie takeoff on the classic Egg McMuffin.
• Burger King took a different tack, and last week announced it would serve burgers as well as breakfast fare each morning. No more wait for a Whopper.
• Dunkin Donuts debuted a new Eggs Benedict sandwich, with Black Forest ham and “spreadable Hollandaise.” (Yes, spreadable Hollandaise. Sounds suspect, I know.)
The skirmish is also spilling into the grocery aisles, with McDonald’s challenging Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts by test marketing its McCafe blend coffee in packages and in single serve K-Cups at select retailers.
Clearly, the fast food industry would have to agree with your mother on this: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
From 2007 to 2012, breakfast sales in the U.S. rose by an average of 4.8% a year, while lunch and dinner sales remained essentially flat.
McDonald’s, which began serving breakfast 40 years ago, is the big dog here with 31% of the $31.7 billion a year market. But channeling its old Chihuahua mascot, Taco Bell is nipping at McDonald’s heels with an aggressive social media campaign.
While all the players have a presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Taco Bell is also utilizing mobile platforms favored by the millennial generation. Those include ads on the photo and video sharing apps Snapchat, Instagram and Vine, and on the digital music streaming service Pandora.
Taco Bell also sent 1,000 consumers identified as “influencers” pre-paid “breakfast phones” – think burner phones with alerts on missions to win prizes.
But it was the Taco Bell-McDonald’s Twitter war that went viral and launched thousands of re-tweets, for all the right reasons. The tweets were creative and had a light touch – funny without being sarcastic. The Twittersphere’s reaction also reaffirms the importance of being nimble in this era of real-time marketing. For major consumer brands, a social media “war room” may soon be as commonplace as the coffee room.
And, one final thought: Supermarket retailers and manufacturers competing for breakfast sales need to track this competition closely, because it inevitably will erode their sales … people can only eat so many breakfasts, and every breakfast consumed at McDonald's, Taco Bell and their brethren is a breakfast not consumed at home.
LAST CALL FOR THE MNB GRILLED CHEESE RECIPE CONTEST…
There’s still time to submit your favorite grilled cheese recipe, announced in my last column.
Send it to me at email@example.com . Our informal panel of judges will award the winner a Panini maker. So choose your cheese wisely and get your grilling game on.
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