Tradition and Urgency Motivate Consumers of Restaurant Seasonal Limited Time Offers

Chicago, IL. —Whether it’s the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the fall or the green shakes that herald the coming of spring, consumers buy into these annual traditions and the sense that these offerings – like colorful fall leaves or spring flowers – are here for only a short time. A recent foodservice market research report by The NPD Group examines restaurant limited time offers (LTOs) and finds that repeated LTOs, like seasonal offers, tap into a base of loyal buyers.

Take, for example, Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL for short) limited time offer, which debuted in August 2014 and will be available this year starting on August 27. Twenty-four percent of buyers who bought a PSL at Starbucks in 2018 had purchased the coffee drink in 2017 and 32 percent of buyers in 2017 had bought a PSL in 2016, according to the NPD report,The Role of the Limited Time Offer: How LTOs Can Be Used to Affect Consumer Behavior.  

The NPD report, which is based on data from the company’s receipt harvesting service, Checkout, also finds that when a seasonal LTO first debuts it garners broad consumer interest because it’s new and then over time it plateaus to include the loyalist buyers while still attracting some new buyers. Seasonal LTO buyers typically visit more and are more valuable customers to the chain overall. 

“Limited time offers continue to be an integral element of a restaurant chain’s and foodservice manufacturer’s marketing mix,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “A well-executed LTO can boost sales and serve as a competitive edge for restaurant operators and help foodservice manufacturers test new products and concepts.”


About The NPD Group

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Checkout offers robust data for tracking and improving performance across all channels plus buyer analytics to help businesses keep current customers and win new ones.  The Checkout Omnipanel tracks online and in-store sales.  A complementary e-commerce panel delivers more granular views of sales through the fastest growing channel with access to over 1 million consumers via our research partner Rakuten Intelligence.  Buyer analytics deliver insight into most valuable customers, brand loyalty, brand leakage / lift, brand launches, and more.