Just like Taco Bell, which used Doritos as a taco shell, Burger King used what is called “Cheetos dust” to encase its handheld mac n’ cheese snack. The cheesy snacks are basically bite-sized, portable portions of the gooey dish. On the outside, the snacks look like oversized Cheetos; when you take a bite you find warm, gooey mac n’cheese on the inside.
This snack item was introduced in June 2016 to much fanfare and interest. It appears this limited-time offer (LTO) was successful the first time around, as Mac n’ Cheetos are back at Burger King for a cheesy Round Two.
Impact of limited-time offers
Limited-time offers can provide instant excitement about menu offerings. These offers are designed to be short-lived, and they can be effective tools for increasing brand awareness, driving traffic, and growing revenue for the restaurant operator. However, the ability to quantify an LTO’s impact on a chain’s business has been lacking until now.
Our Checkout TrackingSM service uncovered the business impact of Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos LTO in both Round One (June 2016) and Round Two (May 2017). We analyzed actual customer receipts to explore whether the Burger King Mac n’ Cheetos promotion spurred additional purchases by established customers or if it brought in new/lapsed customers. Did the offer lift the check size or items per order?
Mac n’ Cheetos lift check size and items per order
The impact the promotion had on Burger King’s business was particularly evident when looking at spend and order size among those who took advantage of the LTO in 2016. Burger King customers spent $5 more on occasions when they purchased Mac n’ Cheetos (which were priced around $2.55) and bought an average of 1.4 more items per order than customers who visited Burger King in the same period but didn’t purchase the LTO.
Additionally, Round 2 was even more successful in terms of the impact it had on the average check size when Mac n’ Cheetos was included in the transaction – 6 percent higher than it had been in the similar 2016 LTO.
Impact of Mac n’ Cheetos on Burger King’s Customer Base
This was thought to be a rather unique promotion and was somewhat surprising to learn that only 5 percent of Burger King customers took advantage of the Mac n’ Cheetos LTO in its first incarnation. Still, considering Burger King’s size, appealing to 5 percent of its customer base is not a small number in terms of actual number of buyers. And, like so many LTOs, it generated a lot of trial. A review of Mac n’ Cheetos 2016 purchase frequency reveals that the vast majority of Burger King customers who purchased the snack in Round One did so just once. And the share of new and lapsed customers who purchased the offer was lower than the share of non-LTO buyers, so the promotion did not bring new buyers into Burger King restaurants.
Findings from Mac n’ Cheetos Round Two
With our Checkout Tracking data we now have the capability to understand the underlying consumer behavior that drives the financial outcome associated with an LTO. As a result, we were able to conclude that Round Two was equally successful in generating increased sales for Burger King; the 2017 offer appealed to a similar number of Burger King buyers as Round One.