People have always loved their food paired with their favorite drink or combined with a side dish or order. And, the concept of combo meal is not new- a crispy fried burger paired with French fries and a can of pepsi, soup and sandwich or salad and soup along with a fried chicken have always attracted customer. Riding on this trend, we have seen that many restaurants have come up with value for money option or combo meal varieties as we may call it. With pandemic not just restaurants but also customers have started looking at value for money options. These combo options are not just a value options but also suitable for satisfying the hunger pangs that a customer go through. Easy to grab, available as an on-the-go option, combo meals have become everyone’s favourite and go to option these days.
A wholesome deal
Iced lattes and cold brews are increasing on menus at quick-service burger concepts, with each of these beverages growing 5.4% in menu mentions year over year, says a report by Restaurant Business Online. Similarly, when we look at Indian market, brands here are also coming up with such options to lure customers.
“Indian audiences always look for wholesome deals. We now offer many more combo options. Combos in all their forms account for about 30 % of all our product sales. The other reason combos work is because they make choosing easier. One can find oneself lost in a long and complicated menu. A lot of people genuinely prefer the convenience of having an entire meal pre-selected for them,” shared Rahul Seth, Co-founder of Burger Singh who has an entire category dedicated to selling burgers in pairs of two.
For Burger Singh, the highest selling combo unit is the ‘Veg Snacker + Veg Snacker, a combo the QSR brand sell for INR 99 in their dine-in stores. “We also have regular combos where we sell a burger + fries + drink,” he added.
Earlier this May, McDonald’s India- North and East has introduced 3-piece meals starting at just INR99*. This is a part of McDonald’s commitment to offering incredible value to its customers while serving up more of the delicious food customers crave. The new 3-piece meals feature a choice of burgers from all time McDonald’s favourites like McAlooTikki or McEgg, or popular classics such as Chicken McGrill, McVeggie or McChicken, along with fries and coke.
“We have built this menu with variety and value firmly in mind for value and satiation seeking customers. Customers can enjoy their favourite McDonald’s menu items at a great value offered with McDonald’s elevated food safety and hygiene standards,” said, Rajeev Ranjan, Chief Operating Officer, McDonald’s India – North and East.
Something for everyone
Whether we say it nostalgia, a value for money option or a marketing tactics, combo meals have been in restaurant menu for ages. According to a report, around 32 per cent customer prefer a fried with a burger and around 28 per cent customer like to have a drink with a combo offer. Also, research shows that value for money options like one salad with another, 1+1 burger etc have also attracted customers looking for a suitable option.
“Combo meals are not just a value meal but it’s that one meal that encapsulates everything: a starter, main course and dessert all in one. It’s definitely value for money as well as easy to handle,” added Rahul Bajaj, Founder & Conceptualizer, Out of the Blue who has created many combo meals, such as the Immunity booster meal which was specially curated during Covid since he wanted customers to have wholesome, filling and light and not heavy on your stomach after. “We had done combo meals for IPL which was a hit. Now we give mini lunch boxes and dinner packages as combos,” added Bajaj who also own cloud kitchen brand One Tight Wrap.
Similarly, to ride on this trend KFC is bringing back some of its most famous holiday buckets this festive season indulging into nostalgia. In honour of the tradition, the QSR chain is going retro and bringing back the iconic 1966 and 1971 U.S. holiday buckets, as well as a new, vintage-inspired design for 2020.
“KFC bucket meals have been bringing people together around the dinner table for more than 60 years. Even though the holidays may look a little different this year, we hope our holiday buckets help everyone hark back to a simpler time and bring some comfort and joy to your homes and your families throughout the season,” said Andrea Zahumensky, CMO, KFC U.S.
The future looks promising
“Since we are curating meals that are relevant and innovative, it definitely is a long term promise to our customers as the idea is to offer wholesome, valuable as well as economical meals to them,” pointed Bajaj by adding that this is partially a marketing deal as well because we do provide discounts after deducting the aggregators commission.
Commenting on the same, Seth further added, “Advanced analytics allows us to predict and analyse customer behaviour better. The trend of Indian consumers looking for combo deals is not going away anytime soon. Companies that listen to their consumers will keep evolving and getting better at giving them what they want. For instance, we discovered that while a ‘burger + Fries + combo’ works really well, a ‘burger + drink’ combo doesn’t.”
He is also of the view that good combo pricing is about increasing one’s average order value. “It’s about incentivizing the customer to spend more by offering value-added deals. The more they buy, the higher the discount,” added Seth for whom combos will always remain a marketing strategy because, at the end of the day, it is all about driving higher sales.
Every once in a while, though, you come across a winning combo that just works really well. It would be silly to take such winners off the menu as they aren't just bringing in customers but are, in fact long term revenue drivers.