We know: anecdotal evidence doesn’t count for much in the world of journalism. But as we sit here eating a quick $3 lunch of a dollar McDouble and an a la carte order of french fries, we can’t help but think that there’s more than a hint of truth to a new study released by market research firm NPD Group. According to the study, interest in combo meals at fast food restaurants has dropped significantly in the past five years – where 9 billion combo meals were reportedly sold in 2007, the study documents that 8 billion were sold in 2011. The difference between 9 and 8 isn’t much, it’s the billion that gets analysts who are studying why consumers are turned off of combo meals.
Why are combo meals cooling off? According to the report there are a couple of factors at play:
The NPD Group attributes several reasons to this decline: people are interested in smaller meals, there are more and better value offerings, the price is too high and the meal composition is not enticing. It's the side items specifically that customers are generally dissatisfied with.
If consumers are interested in smaller meals, it makes sense that they would also be dissatisfied with combo meal side items. Those usually start at medium and work upward from there, and who wants to buy a combo meal knowing you’ve paid money for way too much food that you’ll only end up throwing out wastefully or overeating in spite of yourself? (Which also brings the price issue into sharp relief.) For consumers, it may seem more appealing to pick and choose smaller items from an a la carte, especially with the rise of expanded dollar menus and value items.
For businesses and franchise owners, on the other hand, it may be worth one’s while to start thinking of ways to improve the combo meal model with options and bundlings that can appeal to a larger number of customers. Burger King is one fast food joint who seems to be experimenting with the issue, having launched a weekly revolving door of $5 “King Deals,” but we suspect that other chains won’t be far behind. It’s not a critical issue at this point – even with combo meal sales down by a billion that still leaves 8 billion sold, meaning that there are still plenty of consumers willing to shell out $8 for a combo meal on the regular. But any decreasing trend like this is worth examining while matters can still be course-corrected, before they spiral beyond control.
[SOURCE: Huffington Post]