What's for Breakfast?

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You may scarf down a glazed doughnut for your morning meal, but not everyone swallows breakfast in one sugary gulp. Market research firm ACNielsen has identified 14 consumer segments based on how people approach the first meal of the day. "We looked at what consumers do most regularly during the year," says James Dodge, vice president of advanced analytics. "Were they routinely buying things needed to make breakfast from scratch, like flour for biscuits? Or were they focused on convenience items that they could eat in the car?"

The MegaSegmentation analysis drew on two years of scanning data covering more than 80 breakfast product categories, 5,000 brands and 3,000 manufacturers. It also tapped ACNielsen's Homescan Consumer Panel of 52,000 households to capture purchase data and demographic profiles. The presence of children was a major factor driving consumption behavior. For example, the households in the 'New Families' segment, 49 percent of which have kids under age 6, account for just 6 percent of U.S. households, but spend 41 percent more on breakfast stuff than average consumers. Here's a sampling of other segments the analysis uncovered:

Southern Traditional Breakfast: Pass the Jimmy Dean, please. These households feast on heaping plates of eggs, sausage, biscuits, and grits. They pass on apple juice, preferring citrus flavors like orange and grapefruit. Fewer than one-third of them have children under 18, and most tend to live in rural Southern locations. This segment also encompasses the highest proportion of African Americans. Many could tell you which store offers the lowest priceon brands they like and they believe that "people in the past had more fun than people do today." Roughly 7 percent of U.S. households fall into this group, ACNielsen says, and they spend 12 percent more on breakfast products than the average consumer.

Single to Go: At 17 percent of all U.S. households, this group makes up the largest segment in ACNielsen's analysis, but indexes low when it comes to spending on breakfast products-a dismal 42. Juice and coffee are usually the only breakfast items on their shopping list. These white-collar professionals don't bother with coupons-who has the time?-and are more likely to grab a bite from the coffee shop than toast their own frozen bagel.

Affluent Health-Oriented Singles: Breakfast-bar wrappers litter the granite kitchen countertops in these urban households. A typical breakfast might include a cup of yogurt-maybe with a handful of granola thrown in-and a toasted bagel with marmalade. Forget coffee; many of these consumers say they avoid drinking beverages with caffeine. Herbal tea or fresh-squeezed carrot juice is much more appealing. Only 12 percent have children under 18; 45 percent are affluent professionals, age 45 and over. Many claim to exercise at least twice a week. These folks differ from the Older Health-Oriented segment, the crowd that's basically been ordered by the doctor to maintain a healthier diet.

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