Meal Deal or No Deal?

What consumers really think about lunchtime meal deal offers

Celia Ward

Do meal deals always save as much money as it might appear? Rip Off Britain teamed up with Harris Interactive to explore their viewers’ concerns about supermarket meal deals, questioning a thousand consumers to discover what they really think about lunchtime meal deal offers.

Supermarkets will be pleased to hear that meal deals are still a popular choice for lunch; 28% of consumers who buy lunchtime meal deals buy them most days of their working week. Positively for retailers, the majority believe that lunchtime meal deals offer excellent value for money (53%). However, some are less positive. Of the fifth of consumers who believe that the value for money of meal deals has changed recently, 84% are concerned that value for money has been eroded. A third of consumers surveyed are buying lunchtime deals less often- mainly a result of a perception that their value for money has deteriorated, with over half citing this as the reason (54%). Consumers buying meal deals less often are also concerned that choice has been restricted (37%).

Our research suggests that there may be a fall in consumer confidence in retailers’ meal deal offers. Nearly a third (32%) think that by increasing the price of their lunchtime meal deal, Boots is putting their profits ahead of keeping shoppers happy. A similar number (34%) believe that Sainsbury’s’ exclusion of their taste the difference range in the meal deal is another example of supermarkets giving shoppers a worse offer. 4 in 10 consumers are disappointed with these major retailers for this.

So, which retailers do people feel more encouraged by? In terms of value for money of meal deals, consumers have confidence in Tesco, with a quarter (25%) saying this store offers the best value. However, M&S is the clear winner for offering the best choice of lunchtime meal deal (24%).

Whilst over half of meal deal buyers do think that meal deals offer excellent value, many people are concerned that their value for money has declined, and there is a feeling amongst some that retailers are putting profits ahead of keeping the consumer happy. A compelling lunchtime meal deal offer is a key footfall driver for many retailers, with the main benefit being the extra basket spend that accompanies the transaction. Therefore, supermarkets need to make the most of this opportunity, and ensure they are keeping up consumer confidence in meal deals.

You can view the full espisode of Rip-Off Britain on BBC iPlayer. The results of this research are presented by our Head of Research, Susan Vidler at 23 mins 44 seconds in.

Harris Interactive is also a trusted research partner to The Grocer magazine providing timely, relevant and topical consumer research to support in-depth feature articles appearing within the magazine. You can read more of our recent consumer research appearing in the Grocer here.



  • Consumer Research
  • meal deals research
  • meal deals value
  • rip-off britain