Subway is the latest quick-serve to attempt to steal market share from breakfast leader McDonald's. Today, the sandwich chain launched its national marketing campaign promoting its better-for-you, customizable breakfast sandwiches.
The breakfast sandwich menu includes a variety of egg sandwiches, including an egg white option, served on a light wheat English muffin, flatbread or six-inch or footlong hoagie bread, including 9-Grain Wheat.
Subway's better-for-you breakfast options include four Fresh Fit Egg White Muffin Melts, including:
- Western Egg & Cheese omelet sandwich, featuring the basic build of Black Forest Ham, red onions, green peppers and melted American cheese
- Egg & Cheese
- Black Forest Ham & Cheese
- Steak, Egg & Cheese
Fresh Fit sandwiches are each under 180 calories and contain less than 4.5 grams of fat. Subway's breakfast offerings also include a Double Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwich, featuring choice of egg or egg white, bacon and melted American cheese.
As with Subway's lunch and dinner menu, all breakfast sandwiches are customizable, a point of differentiation the chain is marketing with its tagline "Build a Better Breakfast at Subway."
"In the end, though, it is the customers that create the best sandwiches with the choices they make with toppings, sauces, cheeses, breads and condiments," said Subway executive chef, Chris Martone. "Our breakfast will be no different. Customers can have a little fun with this meal by adding anything from sliced tomatoes to spicy jalapenos to our signature Sweet Onion Sauce on a regular or egg white omelet sandwich."
Tony Pace, chief marketing officer of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, said Subway will play up that differentiation in its marketing.
"Right now our competitive set is pretty much pre-made; it's one size fits all," he said. "We think that (breakfast is) a significant opportunity for us given the way we're different from our competitors, in that you can make a customized product at Subway for breakfast just like you can throughout the day."
Subway is counting on its customization model and healthy halo to convince consumers to change their morning routine and try their breakfast offerings. Still, the company is aware it's a tough sell given the daypart's habitual nature.
The chain's advertising arm is planning an all-out marketing assault, including 15- and 30-second spots in tonight's NCAA men's college basketball finals. National broadcast will feature 15- and 30-second spots across all time slots including primetime. Additionally, Subway will support the launch with social media, radio, PR and digital executions.
Pace said the marketing effort for breakfast will continue well beyond the initial launch phase and is already built into SFAFT's marketing plan for the next few years. But that doesn't mean that marketing for the chain's core business will suffer.
"Breakfast is a whole new layer of activity," he said. "We're not cutting back on what we're doing as far as sandwiches go. We've been pretty astute about how we've marshaled our resources."
Winning at the breakfast wars won't be easy, with other QSRs, including Burger King, eyeing their piece of the $40.7 billion breakfast pie. The burger chain recently ramped up its morning daypart offerings, adding a Sausage McMuffin copycat to its value menu along with a new breakfast bowl. Like Subway, Burger King has added Starbucks-owned Seattle's Best Coffee to its beverage line up.
"We believe it's going to be slow build at first," Pace said.
But Subway franchisees have already demonstrated the opportunity at breakfast. Canada has had a national breakfast program for several years, and that daypart has exceeded expectations there, Pace said.
In the United States, about 40 percent of Subway franchisees had breakfast offerings by the end of 2009, he said. National advertising will especially boost breakfast sales at those units since local store marketing for the daypart previously was often spotty.
"(With a national menu) we could do an ongoing marketing program in addition to the sandwich business," Pace said. "So we think we have the ability to drive business to a higher level."
Christa is editor of QSRweb.com and contributes to FastCasual.com and PizzaMarketplace.com. She has experience in the restaurant industry as well as 15 years as a journalist.