Cereal for dinner? Not weird, say four in five adults

Paul HiebertData Journalist
July 19, 2016, 1:36 PM GMT+0

A new survey reveals that most people think it's normal to eat cereal outside of breakfast, and what that means for marketers

Numbers show that cereal sales are declining. Pressed for time in the morning, people are opting for food they can throw into a backpack or briefcase, such as yogurt or granola bars. Health-conscious consumers are drinking smoothies. Plus, with McDonald's now serving breakfast at all hours, an Egg McMuffin is never too far away.

Still, the cereal industry is worth several billions of dollars, as many Americans continue to start their day with a bowl of milk and box of Cheerios. According to data from YouGov Profiles, the public eats cold cereal for breakfast more often than two staples of the morning routine: toast and bacon. Clearly, then, cereal is still popular.

If companies such as Kellogg's and General Mills hope to recoup lost sales, perhaps they might find some opportunity in the hours that come after breakfast. A new survey from YouGov Omnibus found that 90% of people like cereal, and 81% think it's normal to substitute cereal for meals that occur later in the day. In other words, there's little to no social stigma attached to downing a bowl of Corn Flakes instead of a bowl of spaghetti.

Since Americans aren't strict about when cereal should or should not be consumed, about the same percentage of people (79%) admit they sometimes eat it at different points throughout the day as a snack or meal replacement. For the most part, this fondness for cereal trangresses the bounds of age, sex, and income level.

Indeed, when Kellogg's opened its first-ever cereal cafe in New York City's Times Square earlier this month, presumably it wasn't just to sell more bowls of cereal. The bigger idea is to demonstrate cereal's viability throughout the day. With a shift in morning eating habits, marketers have a new opportunity to show the public that just because breakfast is the most important meal of the day doesn't mean it has to be the first. Given the above data, it might not take much convincing, either.