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French Fries As Sidings: Significant Contributor To Restaurant Sales

“You want fries with that?”

Every fast food customer has surely heard this question in latter years, invoking an image of an often ignored side dish that customers only get to order by default. This, however, is bound to change, as a lot of fast food restaurants now plan to draw attention to one of their steadfast menu items—French fries.

McDonald’s, for one, plans to run its “You Want McDonald’s Fries With That” promotion through the end of the year, coming up with its own unique micro site.The promotion holds a contest wherein players shall share what they want to order with their fries and why they ought to win the $25,000 grand prize. Participants may also join a weekly draw through the micro site, where they get a chance to win $50 Arch Cards.

McDonald’s director of customer engagement and alliances Georgina Roy said that they want to remind everyone how McDonald’s fries make great celebrations even greater.

“While there’s really no need to advertise them, considering that French fries is an iconic menu item and they’re one of McDonald’s signature products, it pays to reinforce their presence once in a while,” said Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of WD Partners, a design and program management firm.

Around this time last year, Wendy’s, in the same manner, rolled out their reformulated version of French fries, the Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt. The chain was said to have used up 80% of its advertising funds for December 2010, a move which proved worthwhile considering that the Natural-Cut Fries brought about a 16% rise in sales after two months.

“Such an increase in French fries sales is significant, not only to Wendy’s bottom line, but as proof that their large advertising expense was effective,” said Lombardi. An independent research that was done last April 2011 found out that 56% of consumers prefer Wendy’s fries to that of McDonald’s.

“We consider McDonald’s French fries as the industry’s gold standard for the preparation of the item by our chefs in superior chef pants and coats,” said Roland Smith, then chief executive of Wendy’s, “so the idea that consumers prefer us is already a huge win—something that we believe will pay dividends in the coming years.”

In a similar effort to give due importance to French fries and other sidings, Bob Evans recently added 99-cent side dishes as add-ons to their $6 Farmhouse Deals. “This proved to be a success,” said Steve Davis, chief executive of Bob Evans Farms Inc. “Almost half of our diners who order Farmhouse Deals buy a 99-cent siding. Our restaurant’s average check increased to more than $9 in the past weeks.”

Farmhouse Deals’ chefs in cool chef pants and coats give customers choices of up to 10 entrees and 12 sides which include home fries, hash browns, fries, fresh fruit and applesauce.

“Attractive price-points build-up and sustain traffic, no matter what’s being sold or the segment you’re in,” Lombardi said. “Once a diner orders, the option of choosing a low-priced addition to his meal is attractive to him as he can tailor his meal with a little indulgence. This goes well for the restaurant operator, too, who gets to maintain the penny margin.”