McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s used a simple trick to sell 100 million extra meals

McDonald’s “McPick 2” options.
Hollis Johnson

The rise of the combo deal is driving sales across the fast-food industry.

McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s have sold more than 100 million additional combo meals since late 2015, the NPD Group reports.

On average, deals account for about one in four of customer visits to quick-service restaurants. Now, however, an average of 35% of customers’ visits to those three fast-food chains have been to purchase a bundled promotion. And sales at the three burger chains are up since they introduced the combo deals.

Apparently, bargain shopping – not dedication to any one chain – is driving much of the rise in customer traffic. According to NDP Group’s Checkout Tracking data, many who purchased combo deals visited multiple chains to take advantage of all the promotions.

The bundled deal has been the hottest deal in the world of fast food in 2016.

The Wendy’s “4 for $4” combo.

Wendy’s started the latest bundled-bargain trend with the October launch of its “four for $4” promotion, in which it offers a junior bacon cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink for $4.

McDonald’s followed Wendy’s with the McPick 2 menu, a bundled deal that that company said helped drivea 5.4% first-quarter increase in sales at US locations open more than a year. McDonald’s began testing abreakfast version of the dealin March, and it is planning on expanding the deal to include regional favoritesstarting May 24.

Burger King answered with a “five for $4” promotion, announced just days after McDonald’s rolled out the McPick 2. Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, reported in April that the chain’s sales at locations open more than a year increased 4.4% in the US and Canada, thanks in part to the bundled deal as well as the successful launch ofGrilled Dogs.

Some of the options for Starbucks’ $8 Power Lunch.

Now, even chains outside the fast-food business are exploring the bundled bargain. Starbucks is offeringa limited-time $8 Power Lunch deal that combines a sandwich, salad, or bistro box; popcorn, pretzels, or chips; a banana or fruit bar; and a bottle of Ethos water. Earlier in May, TGI Fridays debuted its Drink & Dine menu, which combines an entrée and beverage for $12.