Gormley agrees, noting that while the pancake consumer runs the gamut—“singles versus large households, for example”—pancakes themselves “play a specific role in the daily routine of offering a convenient but hearty way to start the day right with a mix of protein and carbohydrates for sustained energy.”
Which alludes to another category driver: wellness.
Robinson sees his company’s strong year-over-year growth as “a testament to consumers looking for more functional benefits from their foods.” Consumers, he says, “are more educated than ever; they want to know what’s in their food, and they need to feel comfortable with it. So brands with cleaner labels and healthier ingredients are winning across the store, including in pancakes and waffles.”
They’re winning so much that Robinson foresees Kodiak and allied better-for-you brands “driving the majority of new dollars going to these breakfast categories,” he says. “We consistently see consumers turning to more nutrient-dense options for themselves and their families.”
That said, consumers also seek healthy pancakes and waffles “that still taste great,” Robinson insists. “It’s important to note that brands can’t forget about taste. Those sustaining growth are the ones that can balance taste and nutrition.”
No wonder, then, that “classic and indulgent breakfast products,” as Gormley calls them, also got a boost during the pandemic; it’s no secret that consumers turned to these indulgences to get a boost of their own.
But perhaps more importantly, the line dividing indulgence and health isn’t as sharp as it used to be. “How we define ‘health’ has evolved past the purely physical to include more holistic concepts, such as emotional and mental health,” Gormley explains. “So brands need to consider how to address this shift.”
Running parallel with that shift, Robinson adds, is “a decline in demand for products catering to a specific diet”—a phenomenon that he describes as “another interesting trend we’ve seen over the last year.” How that trend plays out in the store is in consumers’ search for waffles and pancakes “with a more well-rounded health profile,” he says. “Benefits like protein, lower sugar, whole grains, no artificial ingredients, fiber, and more are timeless and less restrictive.”
They’re also satiating, which is another signal morning-meal asset. “No one wants to feel hungry an hour after breakfast,” Robinson offers, “and both pancakes and waffles—especially those with added protein—do a great job of keeping people satisfied longer.”
How does he know this? One key avenue to consumer intel that any savvy brand now follows is social media, and savvy breakfast brands are no exception.
“We’ve always been a creative, inclusive brand and are constantly coming up with new sweet and savory ways to use our mixes,” Gormley says. “But we get the biggest inspiration from the Instagram and social recipe content our consumers share with the world. We’ve learned that our core business of pancake mixes is versatile enough to make anything, from biscuits to pizza and beyond.”