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Seasonal Menus Drive Consumers In-Store

Many consumers mark the change in temperature or the arrival of national holidays by the return of their favorite seasonal menu item. From specialty lattes to unique burger toppings to festive donuts, nearly all restaurant chains are offering these limited-time menu options and with good reason, nearly all consumers are buying them!

While seasonal menu options are a staple at restaurant chains across North America, how often are people buying them? Is it a one-time buy or do consumers repeatedly purchase these items? What about the occasion? Is it just for the big holidays or does every “day” deserve its own menu item?

Contract Testing recently conducted an extensive survey on how consumers respond to these limited-time menu items with over 1,000 participants from across North America.

Here are some of the interesting findings and insights from this survey:

Consumers are open to change and trying new things, especially when it comes with a festive twist! More than 90% of North Americans purchase seasonal menu offerings on at least one occasion when visiting fast-casual restaurants.

They are purchasing these items regularly: Consumers are purchasing limited-time menu options multiple times – only 12% are purchasing them once a month or less. Canadians are purchasing the products more regularly than Americans with 22% of Canadians purchasing them three times a week, versus 17% of Americans. The majority of Americans reserve these items as an occasional purchase with 40% buying these items twice a month. Daily purchase is rare with just 5% of consumers purchasing these items every day.

Consumers will travel for special menu items: When it comes to seasonal menu items, more than 80% of consumers will visit a specific restaurant for their limited-time options.

Consumers are selective when it comes to seasonal menu offerings: According to consumers, not all holidays need their own menu items. Christmas / Hanukkah are a clear front-runner with 58% of Americans and 66% of Canadians celebrating them with a seasonal menu purchase. Followed by Thanksgiving (14%), Valentine’s Day (6%) and Halloween (3%).

National celebrations don’t need their own menu: With Canada’s 150th Birthday around the corner, many restaurants are offering festive food / beverage items but consumers aren’t so sure they’ll purchase them – just 9% of Canadians are likely to purchase a Canada 150 celebratory menu item.

For questions about this research, or how you can leverage consumer taste buds in your business, contact Andrew Scholes at andrew.scholes@contracttesting.com.