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McDonald's: "Adult Happy Meal" Sets a High Bar for QSR Promotions

RJ Hottovy
Oct 14, 2022
McDonald's: "Adult Happy Meal" Sets a High Bar for QSR Promotions

Key McDonald's Metrics

While focus and streamlined operations are key to restaurant growth strategies, we also continue to see evidence of the impact of innovation and nostalgia in driving visits. McDonald’s has had success with its past celebrity meal collaborations with Travis Scott and J Balvin, with our data indicating a mid-to-high teens lift in visits compared to the weeks prior to the promotion. However, McDonald’s "Adult Happy Meal" collaboration with streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market might be its most successful collaboration today, with data suggesting more than a 30% increase in in-store visitation trends compared to the weeks leading up to the promotion (below). We’ve discussed the impact of limited-time offers (LTO) in the QSR space earlier this year, but McDonald’s has set a new bar for the industry (beating out Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza launch in May).

Although QSR chains saw more resilient visitation trends than other restaurant categories for much of 2022, the gap between the QSR, fast casual, and full-service restaurant chains had narrowed in September as lower-income consumers continue to face inflationary headwinds from menu price hikes across the QSR space while higher-end consumers continue to dine out. Nevertheless, the impact of McDonald’s adult happy meal promotion is evident in not only the massive spike in visitation trends for the full QSR sector last week (below). While not everyone may love these promotions, they can be an extremely effective way to drive visitation growth.

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RJ Hottovy

Head of Analytical Research, Placer.ai

R.J. Hottovy, CFA has covered the restaurant, retail, and e-commerce sectors for nearly 20 years as an equity analyst and strategist for Morningstar, William Blair & Co., and Deutsche Bank.

R.J. also brings a wealth of experience with early-stage investments as an investment committee member for the IrishAngels / Vitalize venture capital group. Over the past three years, he has advised over 50 foodservice and foodservice tech companies on more than $200 million in early-stage capital raises and M&A transactions.

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