Taco Bell’s year-long mission to win the value wars accelerated, in some fashion, when McDonald’s rolled out its $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu at the beginning of 2018. The YUM! Brands chain responded by saying it would expand its $1 offerings by another 20 items, continuing a trend that’s built over the years. Taco Bell had 11 items for $1 in 2014 and more than doubled that by 2018. Taco Bell surpassed its goal to add 20 new $1 products this year, including the Grilled Fiesta Potato Breakfast Burrito, Spicy Tostada, and Chicken Mini Quesadilla. Not to mention the wildly succesful Nacho Fries.
The latest value iteration for Taco Bell is one the chain said goes as big on abundance as it does on price point.
“In a time when value menus are either shrinking portion sizes, walking away from creating innovative $1 products, or forcing fans to buy food they don't want, Taco Bell is doing something, well, beyond belief,” the brand said in a release.
Starting December 27, Taco Bell is launching a revamped, unified value menu called the “Cravings Value Menu” to replace its previous dollar menu.
The offerings no longer stick to the $1 mark, but rather build from another fast-food sweet spot: $5 and below. Taco Bell kicks off the menu with the limited time offering of the $1 Grande Burrito in two varieties—Chicken Enchilada and Three Cheese Nacho. The menu will be divided into four categories: Specialties, Sweets, Tacos & Burritos, and $5 Boxes. Taco Bell said it would continue to add items over the course of 2019.
The Three Cheese Nacho offering combines seasoned rice, shredded chicken, delectable red sauce, reduced fat sour cream and cheddar cheese wrapped in a warm tortilla. The Three Cheese Nacho Burrito is made with seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, red tortilla strips, reduced fat sour cream, and a three cheese blend all together in a warm tortilla.
"As a brand that likes to challenge industry norms, we have really sought to rethink what a value menu should be and the conventions of storytelling for it," global chief brand officer Marisa Thalberg said in a statement.
To introduce the new menu, Taco Bell said it would introduce consumers into a “world that is fantastical and surreal.” The ads will run nationally on TV as well as digital and social platforms starting December 27.
"Sometimes even our most devout fans tell us that it can be hard to believe that food this good can also be this affordable. Taco Bell truly offers 'value beyond belief,' and this campaign dramatizes that," Thalberg added. "As there is a lot of talking down to consumers in this category, there is something special in our celebrating the savviness of our fans. That's how we 'zig' when everyone else 'zags.’"
Taco Bell’s Cravings Value Menu will feature $1 items under the Taco & Burritos category: Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito and Beefy FRITOS Burrito, Specialties category: Triple Layer Nachos, Cheesy Roll-Up, Spicy Tostada, Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla and Beefy Mini Quesadilla, and more.
Taco Bell is also introducing $5 boxes, with more details promised to come.
It’s been a red-hot stretch for Taco Bell in recent quarters. In the third quarter, the brand reported an 8 percent increase of system-wide sales and same-store sales growth of 5 percent, year-over-year.
“I think Taco Bell is just doing everything really well. Obviously to report 5 percent system sales growth, the calendar was incredibly strong,” Greg Creed, YUM! Brands chief executive officer, said in October. “I think the product innovation continues to be world class. I still believe that there's no better product innovation that comes out—that doesn't come out from Taco Bell.”
The chain also took the top spot as America’s No. 1 favorite Mexican restaurant in the Harris Poll in April. “Taco Bell's ability to innovate and elevate around both their marketing and products highlights the fact that the brand proudly stands in a Category of One. Internationally, this is only the beginning for Taco Bell and I'm excited to see the growth the brand grow and expand,” Creed added.