Understanding Limited Time Offer (LTO) Menu Items in U.S. Foodservice Outlets: A best practices guide for the what, when, and how much of menuing temporary offerings

Jul 2017| MDK005A| Datassential

Report Highlights

Among the top 250 chains, full-service restaurants offer over twice as many LTOs per year as limited-service restaurants. The number offered per year at FSRs has begun to level out, while LTO menuing is increasing at LSRs.

Independent operators report offering twice as many LTOs in the past year as chain units; returning items outnumber new launches among both. Potential is high for a successful LTO to be featured again across all segments.

Four out of five LTOs are food items, but the share of beverage LTOs at restaurants has nearly doubled since 2010.

The majority of LTO purchases are priced similarly to other menu items or positioned as premium, ensuring that new concepts offer solid margins. Men, younger consumers, and households with children are more likely to order premium-priced LTOs.

The overwhelming majority of consumers were impressed by their last LTO. A small minority did not think their last LTO was unique, enjoyable, or craveable.

LTOs drove restaurant visits for more than half of consumers in the past month. Consumers with kids in their household were more likely to seek out an LTO both in the past week and the past month.

Television has the greatest reach among LTO advertising channels, while social media, in-store marketing, and “buzz” also are effective promotions. Among social media platforms, Facebook dominates LTO advertising visibility.

The Blueprint for LTO Success Keynote combines insights from over 1,000 consumers with the perceptions of hundreds of operators from Datassential’s OPERA™ panel, the industry’s largest with over 30,000 operators. Qualitative interviews with chain executives also provide insights around limited-time offers at the corporate level.
This report dives deep into chain restaurant LTO trends and the habits, perceptions, and preferences of both consumers and operators regarding limited time menu items. You’ll learn about…

Chain Restaurant Menus
Explore seven years of LTO trends from limited- and full-service chain restaurants using data from Datassential’s powerful INSIDER and SCORES tools. Learn more about which LTOs earn high marks from consumers on purchase intent and perceived uniqueness, and see how the right ingredients, descriptors, and visual appeal can increase both.

The Consumer LTO Experience
Consumers provide insight on their most recent LTO purchase and their LTO consumption and preferences in general. Discover which food and beverage LTOs are the most commonly ordered, which segments capture the most LTO traffic, and how satisfied consumers are with LTOs. Discover who is most motivated by LTOs and what actions consumers are likely to take after an enjoyable LTO experience. Also see which types of LTOs are most appealing and what warrants a premium price tag.

Operator Perspectives
Uncover how both chains and independent restaurants view LTOs: as a growth strategy or to target core customers, and as a creative outlet or as a profit center (or both!). Identify LTO planning priorities at the corporate level and how to address operational challenges in LTO rollouts.

Case Studies
Analyze how limited- and full-service chains have leveraged LTOs in different ways while achieving positive same-stores
sales growth.

Datassential, a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world information on foodservice and consumer packaged goods in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s services, including its extensive MenuTrends database, provide in-depth reporting on trends in menu offerings, flavor profiles, ingredients and preparations. Datassential helps operators, retailers, and suppliers understand and capitalize on these important trends.

Datassential makes the food industry smarter. We provide trend software, predictive analytics, and consumer insights that help manufacturers, food retailers, and chain restaurants innovate and sell more intelligently.

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