Today, even breakfast cereal gets its own holiday (March 7). Hot or cold, granola or flakes, Americans love cereal. Here are a few quick-bite cereal insights from the latest CivicScience polling data in celebration of the traditional breakfast staple.

Most Americans chow down on cereal weekly – and Gen Z eats the most.

Nearly three-quarters of American households (70%) eat cereal. More than half eat it on a weekly basis, although just a small percentage (12%) choose to eat cereal every day. These figures have mostly stayed consistent over the past two years. Even with increasing economic pressure disrupting grocery buying habits, cereal remains an important breakfast staple.

Cereal consumption decreases with age among U.S. adults. Gen Z adults consume the most cereal: 67% eat cereal at least once or twice per week, compared to 45% of Baby Boomers.

In a bowl with milk is still the go-to, while Cheerios is cream of the crop.

How Americans eat cereal hasn’t changed all that much. The majority (71%) still prefer to eat cereal in a bowl with cow or other dairy milk. Despite the growth of plant-based milks, less than 1-in-10 (9%) regular cereal consumers prefer to fill their bowl with almond, soy, oat, or another type of plant milk. An additional small percentage (9%) also take their cereal hot, such as oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. And just 3% prefer it with yogurt, while 8% have other ways of consuming it.

A look at some of the top cereal brands shows that General Mills’ Cheerios is among the most popular, with 57% of U.S. adults saying they like or love the brand. That’s followed by Chex cereals. Kellogg’s Special K and Kashi brands are popular among just over a third Americans. Cascadian Farm cereals, which offer many organic and gluten-free varieties, rank least popular at 27%.

But brand pales in comparison to other factors.

With more options on the market than ever before, such as gluten-free and keto-friendly cereals, what drives Americans to choose one type of cereal over another? Recent polling data show that while flavor and taste is of course the leading factor, over one-third of the cereal-eating population is motivated by price – more than double that of brand (14%).

Nearly a third of Americans are also looking for health-conscious options, such as low sugar and high fiber content. In fact, these rank well over brand. Consumers may have their favorites, but the data suggest they will place ingredients and taste over a brand name.

More cereal insights to chew on:

  • People who earn $100K or less per year are twice as likely to prioritize price when it comes to choosing a breakfast cereal, compared to those who earn above $100K. More than 4-in-10 are likely to decide by price when shopping.
  • Top earners ($150K+) are the most likely to choose premium cereals that are gluten-free or keto-friendly, which tend to be far more expensive than other options.
  • Gen Z adults are also more likely to opt for cereals that are gluten-free or keto-friendly.
  • Among the brands studied, those favorable to Kashi and Fiber One cereals are the most likely to consume cereal with plant-based milks.
  • The breakfast of champions? Americans who eat cereal the most frequently are also the most likely to exercise on a regular basis.

Looking for additional cereal and CPG industry insights? Let’s chat.