Fast food combo meals are not nearly as popular as they used to be, according to a new report by market research firm The NPD Group. The meals are down about one billion servings since 2007 -- consumers purchased eight billion combo meals in 2011, but nine billion were sold in the same period five years prior.
The NPD Group attributes several reasons to this decline: people are interested in smaller meals, there are more and better value offerings, the price is too high and the meal composition is not enticing. It's the side items specifically that customers are generally dissatisfied with.
Bonnie Riggs, an NPD restaurant industry analyst, sees hope for the future of combo meals though, but they might need to go through a revamp. "Even with the combo meal decline, there is still a large group of consumers who would order the meals, which means there is an opportunity to renew their interest by giving them what they want," she says in a press release.
She tells Time that among 18-to-34 year olds, combo meals simply aren't as cheap as other options, like the dollar menu. Also "you can 'bundle' from the value menu and it is a cheaper price," she says.
So basically, people want the best value they can get, and they also want to be able to choose what goes into their meals. So is it possible to update the combo meal to include both value and customization? Some chains are certainly seeing benefit in putting the power in consumer choice.