Mass Appeal of the Combo Meal

C-stores can use bundled deals to help drive traffic
Mike Miller

Consider the everyday foodservice customer—the familiar face, the regular—and chances are, c-store staff can predict what that customer is buying from day to day. Their loyalty is secure, and they’re happy with the food and drink offering.

It’s the more elusive consumer, the one who’s more likely to visit a fast-food chain, who is harder to plan for. So how can c-stores influence their traffic?

Plenty of drivers can spark new customer interest in the menu, from overall craveability and uniqueness to great taste and specialty offerings. But few attributes are as appealing to foodservice consumers as an overarching perception of value.

As consumers weigh the value equation, and what value means to them, a number of factors emerge that could affect their visitation. After all, value means different things to different customers. For many, it’s a rock-bottom price point and for others, true value lies in food quality. But one of the top value indicators seems to be getting the biggest bang for a buck.

The combo meal is a top influencer in fueling traffic, according to Chicago-based Technomic’s 2017 Value & Pricing Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. More than half of consumers today (56%) say combo meals “are very likely to influence them to visit restaurants.” That’s up from 49% who said the same in 2015, illustrating how valuable the bundled meal is and how vital it is for c-stores to develop combo promotions.

Convenience stores have long capitalized on breakfast combo meals; there’s no shortage of retailers who pair a signature breakfast sandwich, wrap or taco with a dispensed beverage. But consumers are also indicating that there’s an opportunity to grab share at lunch. In fact, 50% of consumers polled by Technomic say the traditional combo meal, with an entree, side and beverage, are what they choose specifically for lunch.

It’s also crucial to think strategically about combo-meal promotions beyond strict dayparts. Combo snacks can be a differentiator. For example, Pittsburgh-based GetGo offers a fries and drink combo, consisting of a 22-ounce fountain drink with a small french fries, for customers stopping in for a quick bite.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in customization. Providing the option to build your own bundle can be very appealing to the 53% of consumers who say that a create-your-own combo meal is a big influencer on their visit.