Must Have Menu Item – Bundled Meals

When the US embarked on Covid-19 containment measures in March 2020, consumers across the country starting creating new routines and behaviors that had a ripple effect on their demand for products and services. The restaurant industry quickly responded to the new needs of their guests. As in-dining traffic stalled, off-premise options began to abound. While many brands already had a range of takeout offerings, consumers were looking for options beyond standard individual meals and catering – ushering in the rise of bundled meals.

Since bundles serve 2-4 people at an appealing price point, travel well, and are satisfying, they meet the need for portable food that will feed a household. While bundled family meals have long been a common menu staple, the rise of both offerings and demand catapulted this spring.

Fishbowl’s Research Services team conducted a study of social media data to gauge consumer sentiment around bundles. In April, social media mentions of bundle meals rose 190% over mentions of the same menu item types in March – and the demand has continued through May and June.  (See Figure 1)

Figure 1 Fishbowl Brand Value Studies: Bundle mentions in Yelp data for select LSR and FSR restaurants.

We also found that bundle options vary widely across brands and segments. (See Figure 2) Based on a selection of 24 national restaurant chains, and looking at full and limited service brands as a whole, Sides and Chicken entrees make up the majority of available bundles, followed by Beef, Baked Goods and Tex Mex. Appetizer and Beef based bundles appear more often on FSR menus, while Tex Mex, Sides and Soup bundles are more prevalent at LSR chains.

Figure 2 Fishbowl Competitor Price Research: Distribution of Bundle Types for selected FSR and LSR restaurant chains.

In addition to looking at consumer feedback, Fishbowl’s Research Services team also explored menu prices across LSR and FSR brands, nationwide, using our comprehensive competitor price database. Median bundle prices across all segments for the period March-June 2020 range from $11.99 to $18.99. Bundle prices are highest in CA, WA, CO and VT and generally lowest in MT, ID and UT, as well as the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states (with the exception of DC).

Figure 3 Fishbowl’s Competitor Price Research: PricePosition industry report, showing US median prices of Bundle offerings.

Properly priced and executed, bundle options provide a significant array of choice for guests and a reliable source of revenue, especially while dine-in remains limited. Fishbowl provides a number of products and services that can help brands understand how to build and price their own bundles. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.