Another factor driving traffic is Taco Bell's value play. The chain has always held a spot on the quick-service Mount Rushmore of value. But it planted its flag with more force than usual this past year. When the calendar flipped to 2018, Taco Bell said—perhaps in response to McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu—it would tag another 20 items to its $1 offerings. No tier. Just $1. Then 2019 rolled around and Taco Bell decided to play the high-low value game that’s become so widespread at the $5 price point in fast food. Not just value, but value that trades up to more value and allows customers to stack and build higher average checks, or simply remain at the lowest entry point.
Taco Bell’s “Cravings Value Menu” replaced its previous dollar menu on December 27. It’s divided into four categories: Specialties, Sweets, Tacos & Burritos, and $5 Boxes. Taco Bell said it would continue to inject new items into the tiers as the year progresses. Given the brand’s history with product innovation, it's a scary proposition for competitors. (a vegetarian menu is even in the works).
This past quarter, Taco Bell doubled down on value in the U.S., Creed said. It offered double versions of classics, like the Triple Double Crunchwrap and Double Chalupa. Creed added that Rolled Chicken Tacos drove transactions later in Q4.
Taco Bell’s best-selling LTO (more than 53 million orders were placed during the original run from late January to April) of all time—the viral Nacho Fries—were brought back nationwide in January and will show up in next quarter’s review.
The delivery deal is significant. Unlike many brands, which don’t have the scale to take a $200 million stake in Grubhub, Taco Bell and YUM! have gone about the process different than most.