Value Wars: Fast-Food Chains Battle Over Cost-Conscious Customers – TODAY

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Fast food chains around the country are loosening their grip on consumer’s wallets.
On May 20, Wendy’s announced a breakfast meal featuring a small-sized Seasoned Potatoes and a choice of English muffin sandwich (bacon, egg and cheese or sausage, egg and cheese) for the low price of $3.
This morning offer joins the chain’s laundry list of other daytime deals like its $5 and $6 Biggie Bags, and its 2 for $6 and 4 for $4 Meal Deals, all of which offer various menu items for slashed prices. 
Wendy’s previously boasted a similar low-cost breakfast deal with its “Breakfast Biggie Bundles,” which were announced last August and offer customers a choice of two select items for $3.
Wendy’s newest combo, which the chain says is “a delicious and value-able reason to jump out of bed in the morning,” keys in on the one word defining fast food restaurants’ latest battle: value.
While Wendy’s may have the latest low-cost meal to make headlines, it’s far from the first. Earlier this month, CNBC reported McDonald’s USA was introducing a $5 value meal with hopes of drawing back customers tired of high fast-food prices. A source told CNBC the low-cost meal will last a month after its introduction on June 25.
Bloomberg reports the $5 meal will include four items: a McChicken or McDouble, four-piece chicken nuggets, fries and a drink. 
Quick-serve restaurants are cashing in on this movement, too.
In April, Denny’s announced its plan to entice cash-conscious customers, which includes the return of low-priced All-Day Diner Deals starting at $5.99.
Applebee’s and Chili’s have also advertised their own low-cost offerings.
John Peyton, CEO of the Applebee’s and IHOP parent company, Dine Brands, previously told TODAY.com his company has been looking at diner spending patterns preparing for consumer shifts towards more value-focused purchases.
Peyton told CNN he hopes customers choose his restaurants over fast-food chains as the price points start to level.
“You can get our burger for $9.99,” he told the outlet.
Customers on social media have been voicing their displeasure with the seemingly ever-rising costs of fast-food faves for months. Videos about pricey Filet O’ Fishes, double cheeseburgers, single hash browns and even reports about the end of free refills have generated thousands of views inciting anger.
While low-income consumers are starting to limit their spending at fast-food brands like KFC and Starbucks (which both have recently reported sales declines), other chains have already been stepping up to the paper plate with enticing economical meal deals for quite some time.
In October, Pizza Hut announced its $7 Deal Lover’s Menu, which offers two or more items (medium one-topping pizza, eight-piece boneless wings, Pizza Hut Melts, breadsticks, desserts and more) for $7 each.
Burger King joined in on the fun by introducing its $5 Duo deals (a choice of any two items from a selection of BK Royal Crispy Wrap flavors and/or a Whopper Jr.).
Then in January, Taco Bell launched its new Cravings Value Menu, which it says allows customers to “feast while on a budget.” The menu features 10 items costing $3 or less, including the Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, Cheesy Double Beef Burrito and 3-Cheese Chicken Flatbread Melt. There’s also the $1 Cheesy Roll Up.
“We’re rolling out entirely new ways to save across our menu and doubling down with exclusive digital offerings so expect more from us this year,” Taylor Montgomery, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer said in the announcement. “We’re walking the talk when it comes to value and we’re just getting started.”
Washington, D.C. native Joseph Lamour is a lover of food: its past, its present and the science behind it. With food, you can bring opposites together to form a truly marvelous combination, and he strives to take that sentiment to heart in all that he does.
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