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Do Limited Time Offers Really Increase Foot Traffic to QSRs?

Do you believe fall is incomplete without a pumpkin-spiced latte? Do you rush to buy that movie-inspired burger meal before it’s too late? Well, as you can see from the long line of people waiting to try the limited-edition ghost chili burrito, you are not alone! Limited-time offers have been a tried and true tactic leveraged by many fast-food chains to make their desired customers salivate.

How do QSRs use limited time offers?

For those who don’t know, a limited-time offer (LTO) is a promotional tactic to offer a special product or service for a short period of time. By stores providing a deal for a limited time, LTOs create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging people to take advantage of the unique offer while they still can. Ever since restaurants discovered that limited-time offers could help generate awareness and boost sales, LTOs have become a quintessential part of the QSR industry.

Sure, we all may suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but can limited-time offers actually get your desired customer through your door? In this blog post, we will analyze proprietary foot traffic data to determine if consumers’ real-world behaviors shift when QSRs introduce limited-time offers, such as limited-edition holiday cups or new breakfast items. So grab a snack, and let’s discover the truth behind those tasty deals:

When have limited time offers affected foot traffic for QSRs?

Example 1: Wendy’s French Toast Sticks

Back in August, Wendy’s announced the addition of a new breakfast item, French Toast Sticks, to its menu. Fast-forward to National French Toast Day (November 28th), and Wendy’s celebrated by offering a free four-piece order with any breakfast purchase until December 4th.

Foot traffic to Wendy’s was 10% higher the week of 11/28-12/4 than the previous 3 weeks.

Example 2: Starbucks Holiday Cups

Starbucks added extra cheer to the winter by offering holiday beverages at U.S.-based locations on November 3rd, such as their signature Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, and Chestnut Praline Latte. Starbucks also brought back some of their cold coffee options for the holidays too, like their Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte and Irish Cream Cold Brew.

Foot traffic to all Starbucks locations was 26% above average on 11/5 – just a few days after the arrival of the seasonal, limited-time holiday cups in to stores.

Example 3: Halloween Pails at McDonald’s

What is the most iconic Halloween trio? The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus? Nope! It is McBoo, McPunk’n, and McGoblin from McDonald’s! The beloved Halloween-themed Happy Meal pails returned to participating McDonald’s restaurants ahead of Halloween this year. Although the buckets were available starting from October 18th, most customers waited until Halloween day to pick them up at McDonald’s, along with a tasty holiday treat.

Foot traffic to McDonald’s on Halloween was 32% higher than the average Monday preceding it.

Conclusion

As you can see from our data, limited-time offers can turn up the heat on quick-service restaurant foot traffic. The value of LTOs doesn’t just stop there. According to the March/April edition of PYMNTS’ Digital Divide series, the research found that 26% of QSR customers consider the availability of promotions or deals when deciding between restaurants. Outside of foot traffic, savvy advertisers can leverage this LTO insight to help drive QSR app usage and boost off-hours sales as well. So, marketers, if you need to spice up your QSR brand, you may want to add a side of LTOs with your marketing plan.

Are you looking for the right insights to enhance customer experience and increase brand awareness? Contact us to see how we can get the data you need to take your marketing strategy to the next level.

Nicole Genchur
Director of Marketing Research & Insights, GroundTruth