Much has been made over the chicken sandwich wars within the last several years. Though that particular debate appears to be in a dormant state at the moment, things look to be heating up on another front in the fast-food/quick service industry: breakfast. McDonald’s is experimenting with adding Krispy Kreme donuts to its breakfast menu in select markets, while Wendy’s has brought back its popular breakfast deal. Meanwhile, Taco Bell’s breakfast menu experienced a surge in demand after partnering with comedian Pete Davidson in the fall.

But just how big of a role do fast-food breakfasts play in American morning routines?

Three-quarters of Gen Z grab fast-food breakfast at least once a month.

According to the latest CivicScience data, nearly half of U.S. adults (46%) order a fast-food breakfast at least 1-3 times a month. Percentages significantly drop with frequency, as 9% typically grab a fast-food prepared breakfast for their morning meal 4-6 times per month while 6% will go 6+ times a month. 

Young adults are the primary drivers of fast-food breakfast demand, with 77% of Gen Z adults aged 18-24 and 66% of Millennials aged 25-34 opting for it at least 1-3 times per month. This is in sharp contrast to those over the age of 35, as 62% of adults aged 35-54 and 66% of those over 55 say they never order fast-food breakfast.

Dunkin’ escalates breakfast wars with new breakfast taco.

Recently, Dunkin’ threw the breakfast wars a curveball by announcing a new addition to its menu to branch out beyond its typical coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches: a breakfast taco. New CivicScience polling suggests interest is there in trying the new item, with one-quarter of U.S. adults reporting it’s at least ‘somewhat likely’ they’ll give it a try. Seven percent are ‘very likely’ while the vast majority still aren’t sold on the new item.

Who’s looking to try the new breakfast taco? Younger adults once again look to be leading the charge of interest in trying the new Dunkin’ breakfast taco with a majority (58%) of Gen Z adults aged 18-24 reporting in as ‘somewhat likely’ they’ll be heading to try the taco. One-fifth of Gen Z adults consider it ‘very likely’ they’ll be grabbing a Dunkin’ taco, ten times higher than those 55+ (2%).  

They’re also more likely to be city dwellers, with 30% expressing some level of interest — four percentage points higher than the Gen Pop. Interestingly, rural residents are close behind at 26%, while their more urban counterparts in the suburbs appear to have the least interest in Dunkin’s breakfast taco at 21%.

With lots cooking in the world of fast-food breakfasts, CivicScience data show 49% of American adults feel at least ‘somewhat likely’ they’ll order breakfast from a fast-food restaurant at some point. Convenience emerges as the biggest motivator, as these breakfast intenders are more likely to:

  • Work in-person and are much more likely to work in a hybrid role.
  • Spend more than two hours per day in their car.
  • Classify themselves as a night owl and get less than four hours of sleep nightly.
  • Watch two or more hours of TV each day.

Want to know all about your consumers’ QSR and fast-food preferences? Let’s chat.