Quick-service restaurants used to be the domain of the young adult male. That key customer group–traditionally defined as 18-34-year-old males–is still an important one for many fast feeders, though the segment has had to make room at the table for another customer group: the family.

It’s not that the family ever stopped dining at QSRs; any trip to a fast-food restaurant will confirm that there are in fact children playing in the playgrounds. But recently restaurants in this segment have shifted their marketing and their menu strategies to more overtly and more aggressively target families.

When Burger King announced that it was phasing out the King mascot from its advertising rotation in August 2011, it was clear that the chain not only wanted to put the focus back on the food but also appeal to those customers who weren’t part of that young male demographic, including families.

But it’s not just the absence of a mascot that signals a shift toward families. Later in 2011, Burger King borrowed an idea from its Australian brand, Hungry Jack’s, when it rolled out the BK Family Bundle. Priced at $9.99, the meal included one Whopper, one Whopper Jr., 10-piece chicken tenders, three small fries, three small soft drinks and two pies.

But Burger King is not alone. In addition to announcing that it would hold the line on prices in 2012, Steak ‘n Shake introduced a Family 4 Pack, offering any four of its Under $4 plus any four Classic shakes for $19.99. Steak ‘n Shake has been joined by Pizza Hut and its Big Dinner Box. Meanwhile, back in Australia, the family meal pack continues to heat up with KFC, McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s all marketing similar meal packs.

A lot of the discussion around QSRs have revolved around either breakfast or snacking. And these emerging dayparts will continue to garner attention. However, it’s important to note how the target audience has shifted toward families, as chains look to build check averages and capture those consumers who continue to trade down to more affordable options and look for fast, easy meal fixes. Time will tell whether these pre-portioned family bundles will hit the mark or whether families need more flexibility and pricing options in putting together their own meals.