Recently, I was running some errands when I saw a sign at Carl’s Jr. advertising any size soft drink for $1.
And even though I wasn’t far from home and had cold soda waiting for me in my fridge, I went through the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru and purchased a large Diet Dr. Pepper (and a spicy chicken sandwich to boot!).
I am the latest “victim” of what I call the fast food soda wars. It started months ago, when McDonald’s began offering any size of its soft drinks for $1. Unlike other major fast-food restaurants, McDonald’s largest fountain drink only tops out at 32 ounces (compared to the 44 ounces at other quick-service chains). Still, it was an enticing promotional offer. Then Carl’s Jr. upped the ante by offering its own $1 soft drink promotion, which included its largest 44-ounce offering.
There’s a few things I find interesting about this promotional soda trend:
First, it does work. Let’s be honest: As regular fast-food customers, an offer like this jumps out because the cost of a large beverage at any fast-food establishment can run as high as $2.40 or $2.50. It’s hard to resist.
Second, there’s a catch that most of us don’t realize: The promotional price is only if you purchase the drink separately. It doesn’t apply if you’re ordering a combo meal. Speaking from personal experience, when I see the promotional poster but end up buying a combo meal instead, I don’t think about whether the promotional price of the soda was included. I guess I just assumed it was. The point being, the fact that combo meals are exempt is not a deterrent for me, nor many others just like me.
Third, fast-food chains aren’t the only ones using cheaper fountain drink prices to entice customers. 7-Eleven recently began offering its 32-ounce Big Gulp for 99 cents, and ampm has long been offering loyalty cards to its customers where after purchasing four beverages, the fifth one is free. And let’s face it: If you’re a regular at a Taco Bell or Wendy’s, odds are you also occasionally visit a convenience store for some quick, cheap food.
Don’t be surprised to see other restaurant chains and convenience stores join in this soda war. Its potential of enticing customers has not yet been fully tapped.
"Fast Food’s Soda Wars Latest Attempt to Gain Business" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.