Operators invest time and money into their limited time offer (LTO) strategies for a multitude of reasons – to generate excitement among existing customers (85%), attract new customers (81%), drive repeat traffic (84%), test items before making them a permanent fixture on the menu (73%), and so on, according to Datassential. While the reasons for launching an LTO are clear, the path to success is not. So when it came time for a leading QSR chicken chain to take the plunge into the overcrowded LTO pool, they knew they’d need a unique concept that was operationally feasible to keep them afloat… and they’d need the support of a partner who specializes in just that.
This leading QSR chain’s menu development team had a vision for what they wanted – a southern-inspired chicken sandwich – but they needed help concepting one with broad appeal that was still a good brand fit. The Rubix culinary team introduced them to a variety of flavor driven solutions (all data-backed using menu trend analyses and consumer insights), and there was one cheesy spread topping the list – pimento cheese. This Southern staple was a concept the QSR had considered before but they didn’t have a history of LTO innovation, so this was completely unchartered territory. But producing custom, flavorful spreads at mass scale is all in a day’s work at Rubix. As such, the partnership was born.
Our R&D, Supply Chain, and Commercialization teams worked at lightning speed to finalize the custom formula, procure raw materials, and complete production runs. In a matter of 3 months, the sandwich featuring their custom pimento cheese was in a small test market. The immediate feedback was positive so the test was expanded to a larger market. The expanded market test was incredibly successful. The consumer demand far exceeded projected volume leading to operators having to take a slight pause in promotion to source more equipment to fry a higher capacity of the chicken filets used on the sandwich. Once new fryers were in-house across the QSR’s network, the LTO was officially on the marketing calendar for a full system launch.
The LTO was an instant success. During the first week of its full-network release, the QSR experienced a 23% sales lift. That’s a lot of pimento cheese! And the online buzz, well, it was buzzing. From national media outlets to viral social media reviews and triple-digit increases in Google searches, the widespread appeal of this LTO was ostentatious. When the promotional period ended, consumers didn’t hesitate to express their disappointment on TikTok and Reddit or by signing an online petition demanding the QSR bring the item back. But that’s the beauty (or dismay) of LTOs… they are here for a good time, not a long time.
The QSR experienced a 23% sales lift during the first week of the LTO’s launch.
Since the launch of the LTO, overall pimento cheese sales grew 4% in retail stores, and has remained elevated ever since.
56% of Datassential surveyors said they would visit the QSR specifically for this LTO.
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