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Menu deals flat line with consumers

What makes the sale for restaurant patrons?  According to the NPD Group’s Crest foodservice market research, consumers are less enthused by combo-meals and dollar menus of the past. “On-a-deal” spending decreased for the second year in a row since 2008.

The NPD research looked at the year ending August 2012:

  • There was a 1% increase in “non-deal” restaurant visits in each of the past two years, while “on-a-deal” visits have decreased over this period
  • There is a decrease in spending for combo meals and dollar/value menus, which make up 20% of deal traffic
  • The number of combo meals purchased is up, but the number of consumers responding that they ordered a combo meal “on-deal” is down
  • Decline in dollar menu ordering is possibly linked to the disappearance of 99-cent items and the type of food offered
  • Coupons, discounted price and senior citizen discounts are up

“In 2008, when economic concerns caused many consumers to stop some of their discretionary restaurant visits, many restaurant operators turned to offering consumers more deals to drive traffic,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “As has been historically the case, when deals are in the marketplace for an extended period of time, consumers tend to expect them or see them as everyday price and not as a deal. What should restaurant operators do? Examine their value proposition, not just in terms of prices but in quality and service; leverage the convenience factor of restaurants; and offer variety, all three of which consumers have consistently told us are important to them.”

Source: The NPD Group/CREST®, “As Consumers Redefine Restaurant Deals, Non-Deal Restaurant Traffic Increases While Visits on a Deal Decline,” November, 2012.