Quick service restaurant value meal is more than just saving cents

McDonald's $5 Value Meal
McDonald's $5 Value Meal / McDonald's

While that food receipt might have caused a viral food conversation, the tides have swiftly changed. Company after company announces another quick service restaurant value meal. Customers appreciate the lower cost. But, the bigger conversation is less about the dollars and cents. It is about choosing to say yes to the purchase.

Over the past several years, rising food costs have caused many changes to consumers’ buying habits. Whether it is making one meal stretch a little further or cutting out the luxuries, like stopping for a McDonald’s Happy Meal, people tightened their wallet.

While all the savings helped to make the budgetary bottom line a little more bearable, the result caused other changes, too. Restaurants scaled back the menus. Instead of having a smorgasbord of items, the combo meal options did not go into the double-digit range.

Now, the tide has turned. The quick service restaurant value meal has become even more heated than the chicken sandwich wars or the cola wars from years ago. Ever week another offer, promo, or savings dings on the screen, shouts from the rooftop, and otherwise wants people to hit the drive-thru window.

Most recently, McDonald’s put its value meal front and center. With its contender to be the bigger bag, better value, and best savings, the $5 Meal Deal sets the tone for a heated summer of savings.

As Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s USA said, “Value has always been part of our DNA. We’re focused on living up to that legacy and offering delicious, affordable options customers can enjoy any time they walk through our doors, go through our drive thru or place an order through our app.”

Truthfully, the $5 Meal Deal is a great value. It is a sandwich, fries, nuggets, and a drink. Many people spend more on a frozen coffee drink. While the calorie count might be the same, the McDonald’s meal is definitely more food.

While several other brands have served their value meals sooner, McDonald’s entry into the conversation shows a trend for the QSR space. From $1 deals to combo meal savings, consumers do not want to spend double digits on a meal. Just like there are cheat days, there can be spending splurges. But, for the QSR market to continue to thrive, the restaurants need to depend on the guest who places the order multiple times a week, not just for a special occasion.

That loyal customer plays into the importance of the QSR app. Loyalty bonus, app only savings, and other promotions keep guests ordering. The key is for one brand to earn prime real estate on that first screen. Just like being on the top Google page, if the information is not front and center, it will be overlooked.

In the end, the quick service value meal is not just about driving guests to make a one-time purchase and appreciate the savings. The real value is about building customer loyalty with every meal.