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Consumers seek value, familiarity in LTOs

Launches of new menu items can attract customers bored with cooking at home.
Jack in the box loaded breakfast sandwich
Photo courtesy of Jack In the Box

A good chunk of restaurant customers—30%—are tired of eating the same meals at home, according to a recent Foodservice Impact Monitor from Technomic. But they have priorities when it comes to ordering food from restaurants: 47% are craving more comfort foods and 46% are seeking value. Operators who offer a special deal on a comforting item have two chances to win over consumers.

In Technomic’s Ignite menu concept development survey from July, consumers ranked the following limited-time offers as those they were most likely to purchase. When asked about the items that offered the most value, those that delivered familiar food at a good price came up on top. (The canvass of 500 consumers for 100 or more LTOs are rated based on the item’s name and description. Results are rounded to the nearest whole number.)

The Loaded Breakfast Sandwich from Jack in the Box ranked No. 1 in purchase content by 61% of those surveyed. Its description reads as a simple preparation of freshly cracked eggs, hickory smoked bacon, ham, sausage, melted American cheese, and toasted sourdough bread. Three types of meat, cheese and a unique carrier add to its appeal.

Jack in the Box’s Southwest Cheddar Cheeseburger also got a high purchase intent score of 56%, landing it in the No. 5 spot. The burger also has some points of differentiation; it’s topped with smoked cheddar, chipotle sauce and grilled onions. It’s a familiar favorite with a flavor twist.

Southwest cheddar burger

Indulgent breakfast foods that are more complicated to make at home are attracting potential purchasers. The Fresh Strawberry Crepes and Fresh Fruit Waffle from Elmer’s came in at Nos. 3 and 4 respectively. The former is described on the menu as “freshly-prepared crepes filled with delicious fresh strawberries then topped with cream cheese icing, powdered sugar and whipped cream.” It’s served with two eggs and a choice of breakfast meat, a morning splurge that appealed to 59% of potential purchasers.

ELmer's

The waffle garnered a score of 56% from its description: “A freshly made blueberry waffle topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and bananas. Dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with cream cheese icing and topped with whipped cream.” It’s also served with eggs and breakfast meat. 

Rounding out the top 5 at No. 2 is a generous portion of Prime Rib from Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill. The “succulent, juicy 12-ounce cut” of beef is slow roasted to “melt in your mouth,” tempting 60% of consumers to give it high marks.

On the value side, consumers gravitated toward discounts and deals. Among the winners in July was Subway’s Buy 1 Get 1 Free Footlongs, available for orders through the chain’s app or online. Full-service chain Ruby Tuesday’s promoted a free Ruby Classic Cheeseburger to all active and retired military with a valid  ID—another offer that ranked high with consumers.

Chicken sandwiches continue to be popular, and convenience store Kwik Trip competed with a bargain entry—a $1Chicken Sandwich. Ruby Tuesday’s also had a deal on a Grilled Chicken Sandwich for $6.99, served with tots or fries.  Promotions for cold beverages ramp up in the summer and thirsty consumers went for the $1 Iced Tea offered by Bojangles.

These five items were all rated as a “good” or “very good” value by survey respondents.

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