The Numbers Prove It: Fast-Food Customers Demand All-Day Breakfast

A survey of people who eat fast food for breakfast shows more than two-thirds of them want to be able to order it all day long. When will their dreams be realized?

Another piece of evidence has come in supporting the three most beautiful words in the English language: all-day breakfast. A new survey by market researcher Instantly shows that among 6,154 consumers who eat fast food for breakfast, 72% of them believe breakfast food should be offered all day. The people, in other words, demand hash browns in the afternoon, and in the evening too.

"The data shows that time of day doesn't diminish people's love for breakfast food, and brands should take heed," Andy Jolls, CMO of Instantly, told BuzzFeed News. "If a big player moves into the all-day breakfast game, they could seize market share from competitors who are only offering lunch or dinner items."

For years, McDonald's has teased the idea of all day-breakfast before American consumers. It's been tested and failed at the Golden Arches repeatedly, clogging up kitchens during lunch and dinner hours and hogging up space that could be used for grilling higher-priced burgers. Yet consumers continue to call out for eggs and sausages from the Golden Arches past 10:30 a.m.

For now, McDonald's continues to test the idea in a limited number of stores, but change could come sooner than you think, as the company searches for ways to return to growth. A McDonald's franchisee recently told the Wall Street Journal that all-day breakfast may launch nationwide as early as October.

Egg McMuffins and Sausage Biscuits have already made McDonald's the market leader for fast-food breakfasts, and it sees further potential for them later in the day. "As we explore different initiatives to drive the business, clearly, all-day breakfast is one of those," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said on an earnings call in July.

But when it comes to all-day breakfasts, there's another chain that can offer more insight: Dunkin' Donuts, which offers breakfast sandwiches and coffee throughout the day. It has served the company well. "We've seen breakfast sandwiches become an increasingly important part of our menu in the afternoon," the company said in a statement.

That 72% of people say they want all-day breakfast may just be lip service, and clearly McDonald's has many other issues to sort through before rolling out such a change across tens of thousands of outlets. In addition to testing real demand, McDonald's has to make sure its kitchens can handle having breakfast items on the menu while also offering its regular assortment of burgers and wraps. The key is simplification, not just of the menu, but also of procedures.

Easterbrook said McDonald's has a team "looking at other procedures that we can simplify in the restaurant, whether it's the way we assemble menu items when we work, whether it's the way we have the packaging laid out, whether it's the way we use technology to be able to get orders to the back of the kitchen just to take out steps and workloads."

We'll be waiting with bated breath for more breakfast news this fall.

Skip to footer