Restaurants focus on value during continued inflation

As inflation and the higher cost of living persist, consumers continue to prioritize value as the try to save their pennies. Off-premise dining remains a popular choice for consumers. In fact, in-person dining decreased this month by nine per cent, with the last three months seeing a steady decline in guest counts for restaurants.

As a way to entice visitors and retain loyal customers, many restaurants and QSRs are turning to value meals to attract more cost-conscious guests.

Technomic’s recent Industry Insights reports that in 2023’s Q2, 20.6 per cent of operators had value meals on their menu, up almost one per cent from Q1, with value meal items seen on menus 22.8 per cent more than last year.

The most popular value meals feature pizza, sandwiches, and chicken, but other options are also growing in popularity. Burritos (up 250 per cent), quesadillas (up 188 per cent), and bowls (up 32.3 per cent) have become top choices with diners over the last year.

While these meals may offer more value, they have not been exempted from increased pricing, experiencing an 8.7 per cent average increase in pricing over last year’s menus.

Many QSRs are also using this strategy to try compete for sales. Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell all have items available for $1 on their menu. McDonald’s offers a $1, $2, or $3 menu for people to choose from. Also, many convenience stores like 7-Eleven are promoting value menus as an easy and inexpensive alternative to fast-food restaurants.

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Value meals are not just for QSRs, though. Diners are looking for more value from their favourite restaurants, too, and many operators are expanding their loyalty programs to up the rewards for their members. Other operators are building their online ordering systems and takeout menus to appeal to customers looking for simple off-premise dining options.

These days, restaurants will need to try and get creative to attract and retain customers, as prices continue to rise, and diners look ahead to cut costs over the long haul.