Charging for Fast Food Extras May Actually Save You Cash
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The typical American consumer is accustomed to unwrapping a hamburger from their favorite fast food establishment and finding “the works”: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and a few packets of ketchup on the side. However, according to John Stanton, Ph.D., chair of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, the “frills” that come with fast food or restaurant meals could become a thing of the past. “In an environment where food companies are reducing the size of packages and charging more for products, consumers can expect to pay for what they used to get for free.”
This trend has become a standard in the airline industry- - where travelers now pay for things like extra baggage and in-flight refreshments, and has recently found its way into the restaurant industry. “We’ve already seen companies finding subtle ways to save money, so charging for condiments should surprise no one,” says Stanton.
Some consumers might be up in arms about paying for barbecue sauce, but Stanton argues that these new business practices could be beneficial in the long run. “Those who don’t use the free condiments would rather other people pay extra than see the price of their burger increase,” he says. It is also important to recognize that the small savings one consumer may see by using less ketchup adds up to huge savings for the restaurateur, which will hopefully keep food costs down or lead to one less person losing their job. In the case of the airline industry, loading up the plane with fewer suitcases and water bottles equals less fuel, keeping ticket prices affordable. “It might seem like greed, but in reality, companies are doing all they can to reduce waste, which keeps the cost of food down for the consumer.”
“In the long run consumers will accept the added costs- we always have,” Stanton adds, but notes that the bare-bones approach to dining out probably won’t last forever. “The good news is, after a few years, some innovative business will say, ‘There’s no charge for extras.’ As they grow, everyone will follow suit, and we will once again have ‘ketchup galore.’”