Last weekend, I got a bit hungry in the middle of the day while running errands and decided to go to my local Carl’s Jr. drive-thru for a quick snack. While scanning the menu, I noticed a special offer: Double Charbroiled Sliders for $1 from 2-5 p.m., down from the regular price of $1.50.
Happy hour pricing is a trend that’s popping up more often at major fast-food chains. Taco Bell, for example, offers medium soft drinks and other specialty beverages for $1 from 2-5 p.m., while Sonic offers 50% off its drinks and slushes from 2-4 p.m.
Fast food chains have started doing this for the same reasons that casual restaurants and bars offer happy hour specials:
Fast-food restaurants are busiest at mealtimes, but generally slow during the early and mid-afternoon, between 2 and 5 p.m. It makes sense to offer special deals during this time to drive foot traffic.
When I go through the drive-thru at Taco Bell around 3 p.m. for a $1 happy hour soda, I’ll usually add a bean burrito or soft taco to my order. I’m not exceptional: happy hour prices get people in the building, but when the item is priced low enough, it entices you to order regular-priced items as well.
That Carl’s Jr. and its sister restaurant Hardee’s is offering a special price for Double Charbroiled Sliders is no accident. This is the first time the chain has offered sliders, as well as the first time it has tried happy hour pricing. The discounted price, offered until April 24, could entice more people to sample its newest product while simultaneously testing how well happy hour drives revenue.
Have you noticed happy hour deals at fast-food restaurants near you? Did you try them? Sound off in the comments!
Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage analyst for Industry Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence firm. It's the perfect job for him: He loves junk food, he often works besides a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, and anytime one of the health nuts in his office gives him grief for eating a Big Mac, he gets to smile and say: "Hey, this is my job." Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.