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Wendy’s to test surge-pricing, with menu prices fluctuating based on demand

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Wendy’s menu items may be rising and fluctuating in price depending on the time, location and demand.

In mid-February, Kirk Tanner, the new CEO and president of Wendy’s, shared with analysts that they would be rolling out new plans to improve company profits, including digital menu boards that will be more easily able to change the prices of items, as well as testing dynamic pricing and daypart offers, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Tanner explained that they plan to invest about $20 million to “roll out digital menu boards to all U.S. company-operated restaurants by the end of 2025 and approximately $10 million over the next two years to support digital menu board enhancements for the global system.”

The digital boards are meant to improve the order accuracy and increase sales by upselling certain menu items.

By 2025, the fast food restaurant chain will begin testing dynamic pricing, which is a time-based pricing strategy that companies use to increase or decrease prices for their services or items depending on the time and demand. It is similar to “surge prices” on the Uber app when there are few drivers or the demand for a driver is higher, depending on the location or time of day.

“Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and daypart offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling,” Tanner said.

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A Wendy’s spokesperson confirmed the digital menus, as well as dynamic pricing in a statement to TODAY.com.

“At Wendy’s, we’re focused on providing great tasting, fresh, high-quality food and doing it in a way that brings value to our customers. As we’ve previously shared, we are making a significant investment to accelerate our digital business. In addition to evolving our loyalty program, we are leveraging technology even more with the roll out of digital menu boards in some U.S. restaurants,” the statement reads. “Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing a variety of enhanced features on these digital menu boards like dynamic pricing, different offerings in certain parts of the day, AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling based on factors such as weather.”

The statement adds that “dynamic pricing can allow Wendy’s to be competitive and flexible with pricing, motivate customers to visit and provide them with the food they love at a great value. We will test a number of features that we think will provide an enhanced customer and crew experience.”

In the meeting with analysts, Tanner noted that they have already rolled out its “Wendy’s Fresh AI” in many restaurants, “where we see ongoing improvement in speed and accuracy.”

The digital menus will help reflect the fluctuating prices throughout the day. Tanner said the new rollouts will “plays a key role on our restaurant team, enabling the crew to focus on what matters: preparing fresh high-quality Wendy’s favorites and building customer relationships to bring them back time and again.”

Back in 2023, NBC’s Sam Brock told TODAY that dynamic pricing was creeping into restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys and more.

“Experts say more businesses are tracking consumer spending habits to determine when and even what to charge more for,” Brock said, adding that to avoid dynamic pricing check online for promo codes, discounts, loyalty programs and more.

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Additionally, the CEO said to analysts that the company will also be investing more money to advertise its new breakfast menu offerings. They recently teamed up with Cinnabon for a new breakfast item and added two additional breakfast offerings: English muffin sandwiches and a breakfast burrito.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the company is also testing “saucy nuggets” with flavors like honey-barbecue, Buffalo, garlic-parmesan and ghost pepper in a small number of restaurants in Ohio.

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

Source: NBC New York

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