Choice-Hungry Consumers Like New QSR Combo Meals

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Choice-Hungry Consumers Like New QSR Combo Meals


CHICAGO — After spending time trying to wean consumers off of the steep deals they used during the recession to drive visits, the quick-service restaurant (QSR) majors are changing course and embracing deals once again.

The major quick-service hamburger chains are going back to their roots of offering combo meal deals, and consumers are responding positively, according to new research released by The NPD Group.

According to the research firm, combo meals — which previously were three menu items offered at a bundled price — were declining in popularity for several years because consumers wanted more choices and the ability to customize.

Over the last six months, the most popular QSRs have introduced new, value-oriented combo deals that give consumers the choice they are looking for. Wendy’s 4 for $4 Meal; McDonald’s McPick 2 for $2 offering, which then changed to 2 for $5 with a different product offering; and Burger King's 5 for $4 deal are a few examples.

NPD's research shows consumers are responding favorably to these new combo meal offers and consider them deals. In fact, after several years of declines, combo meal visits rose by 1 percent at QSRs for the year ending February 2016 vs. the year-ago period. NPD reported that this entire increase was driven by the combo meal deals.  

Combo meals purchased on a deal at lunch and dinner rose from a rate of 6 percent in the year ending February 2015 to 8 percent in the year ending February 2016. This increase resulted in an additional 110 million combo meal deal orders, or a total of 686 million combo meal deal orders. All three major hamburger chains — Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s — collectively were responsible for the order increases through combo meal deals.

“This once again suggests that given the right promotional offer at the right time, dealing can generate positive traffic growth,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant industry analyst and author of the recently released report, Value Wars: A New Twist on Combo Meal Deals. “The response also points to the importance consumers place on the ability to customize and have choices.”