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NPD: Meal Deals Need to Be Rejuvenated

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The NPD Group, a market research and global information company, reports that customers visiting restaurants because of a “meal deal” were down last year from the prior year.

NPD analysts, however, see the drop in deal visits related to consumers’ conception of what a deal is. In fact, they said if a deal — and the two most popular in the restaurant arena are combo meals and value menu items — is carried on too long, the consumer may start to see the deal price as the regular price. When that happens, something else is needed to attract him, NPD researchers said.

“Anyone — restaurants or retailers with food-service departments — offering these popular types of deals, should just get creative and change things around,” Harry Balzer, NPD’s chief industry analyst, told SN.

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For instance, he said, if a food-service operation has been offering a sub sandwich for $5 for a long time, it might be wise to drop the price by $1 for a short time to create a new deal.

Or a combo meal could be replaced with different combo meal with new components, Balzer pointed out.

“Or go to coupons for a while,” he said.

He added that the longer a deal is offered, the fewer sales it’ll drive.

This is shown in a recently released NPD research report, Planning for Growth in the New Normal Marketplace.

The report reveals that in 2012, after many of the promotions that emerged during the recession had been in existence a few years, restaurant deal visits declined by three percent and non-deal traffic was up two percent.

“The deals just got old, and were no longer perceived by the consumer as deals,” Balzer said.

“I’m not saying get rid of combo meals and value items. They’re popular. But it would be good to move them around a little, create new vitality, do something new to appeal to customers.”  

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