Big burger chains have brought back combo deals, and research has shown that their return has driven growth.
New research from The NPD Group has revealed that, after making efforts to wean customers off of the steep deals that were offered during the recession, major quick service hamburger chains are now once again offering combo meal deals, and data shows that consumers are responding well to the change.
After several years of declines, combo meal visits rose by 1% at quick service hamburger restaurants in the year ending February 2016, compared to the same period a year ago, and entire increase was driven by combo meal deals.
Combo meals, which previously were three menu items offered at a bundled price, had been declining in popularity for several years because consumers wanted more choices and the ability to customize. Over the past six months, one chain after another has introduced value-oriented combo meals that offer choices. Wendy’s introduced a “4 for $4 Meal,” McDonald’s launched the McPick “2 for $2” offering and then changed the offer to “2 for $5” with a different product offering. Burger King followed suit with a “5 for $4” deal and a number of other QSR chains have added a value proposition of one kind or another to their menu.
Consumers are responding to these combo meal offers and consider them deals. Combo meals purchased on a deal at lunch and dinner rose from a rate of 6% in the year ending February 2015 to 8% in the year ending February 2016. This increase resulted in an additional 110 million combo meal deal orders or a total of 686 million orders. All three major hamburger chains, Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, offering combo meal deals were, collectively, entirely responsible for the order increases.
“The strong response to combo meal deals once again suggests that given the right promotional offer at the right time, dealing can generate positive traffic growth,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD 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.”