CHICAGO — The combo meal is making a comeback. After weaning customers off traditional fast-food value offerings during the recession, burger chains are returning to their roots by offering bargain bundles, according to The NPD Group.
After years of declines, combo meal visits rose by 1% at quick-service hamburger restaurants in the 12-month period ended Feb. 29 compared with the same period of time the previous year.
Previously, customization was king of Q.S.R., dethroning combo meals in lieu of more choices and personalized options. Now, the two trends are coming together as restaurants introduce value-oriented combo meals that offer interchangeable choices.
Rapid-fire announcements of new combo meals have poured in over the past six months. Wendy’s introduced a 4 for $4 Meal, and McDonald’s launched its McPick 2 for $2 deal, replacing it with the McPick 2 for $5 with different options. Soon after, Burger King announced a 5 for $4 deal, and other Q.S.R. chains have followed suit.
Customers are responding well to the throwback pricing, NPD said. Combo meals purchased at lunch and dinner rose 2% from February 2015 to February 2016, resulting in an additional 110 million combo meal deal orders, pushing the total to 686 million orders.
|Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD|