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Wendy's is spending $15 million to win the fast-food breakfast battle, even as customers skip morning meals

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/5/2020 ktaylor@businessinsider.com (Kate Taylor)
Wendy's is eager to cash in on customers returning to chains in the morning. Irene Jiang / Business Insider © Irene Jiang / Business Insider Wendy's is eager to cash in on customers returning to chains in the morning. Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Fast-food breakfast as we know it has dried up during the pandemic. But Wendy's is eager to cash in on customers returning to chains in the morning. 

Wendy's reported on Wednesday that same-store sales in the second quarter were down 4% in the US, as restaurant visits took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. The company also said same-store sales grew to high-single digits in July because of the success of breakfast. 

Breakfast made up roughly 8% of Wendy's systemwide sales in the quarter, despite the chain's morning menu launching in the first week of March — right before the coronavirus decimated restaurant industry sales.

Read more: Breakfast sales at fast-food giants like Starbucks and McDonald's 'dried up' during the pandemic

a piece of food: Wendy's breakfast business is on the rise. Irene Jiang / Business Insider © Irene Jiang / Business Insider Wendy's breakfast business is on the rise. Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Despite the disruption of people's morning routines, Wendy's said that its breakfast business is already profitable. The company plans to spend $15 million to advertise breakfast and has already invested roughly $2.2 million in doing so. 


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"We plan to market breakfast in a big way in the back half of the year, as people fall back into their breakfast routines," CEO Todd Penegor said on a call with investors on Wednesday. 

Restaurant chains' breakfast businesses have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, with companies such as McDonald's and Panera saying morning sales fell the furthest during the pandemic. 

"There's not much recovery in the breakfast daypart right now. In terms of daypart, breakfast has dried up," Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary told Business Insider last week. 

Wendy's executives said that breakfast orders were coming later than they typically would, echoing similar statements from Dunkin' and Starbucks' executives.

Through its new advertising push, Wendy's hopes to make more people aware that its breakfast menu even exists. Currently, executives said that only about half of potential customers in the US are aware that Wendy's serves breakfast. 

Wendy's executives said the company plans to spend more on breakfast marketing in the coming years, with chief financial officer Gunther Plosch noting that it takes several years to ingrain a habit. In other words, Wendy's hopes that its breakfast will one day no longer be a novelty, but instead a part of Americans' daily morning routines.

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