There’s nothing wrong with Taco Bell’s performance of late. Its 7 percent same-store sales growth in the second quarter of fiscal 2019 marked 12 straight periods of gains—17 of the last 18 in fact. The chain boosted system sales 10 percent, with net new unit growth rising 3 percent to bring its restaurant count to 7,136 globally (6,629 in the U.S.)
But sometimes a position of strength is the best platform to innovate from.
Starting September 12, Taco Bell will roll out a broad menu revamp nationwide. It said the change would make room for future menu additions, while simplifying the ordering process and improving speed of service, which has been a big chalkboard initiative for Taco Bell in recent quarters. In Q4, Taco Bell said its speed of service improved 3 seconds at lunch and 2 seconds at dinner. While that might sound minimal, YUM! Brands COO (and soon to be CEO) David Gibbs said it helped drive more than 4 million additional transactions during the period. This past quarter, Gibbs added, 6 million more cars rolled through Taco Bell drive thrus compared to Q2 2018. One reason: Customers received an experience that was, on average, 7 seconds faster.
With that in mind, Taco Bell’s upcoming menu changes come into focus.
Below is the old menu board.
Now here’s the new one.
The fresh design works to made ordering easier. “It’s kind of like our version of decluttering a closet,” Taco Bell said. The brand removed some items and updated offerings with an assortment that includes best-sellers and refreshed combo options.
Taco Bell cut its list of nearly 20 combos in half to put the spotlight on iconic choices, like the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Crunchwrap Supreme, and Quesarito. The combo numbers changed, too, and there are three breakfast options.
Here’s a full list of new combos and their corresponding numbers.
Among the items Taco Bell plans to shed:
- Beefy Mini Quesadilla
- Chips & Salsa
- Chipotle Chicken Loaded Griller
- Double Decker Taco
- Cool Ranch & Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos (the Nacho Cheese version is staying)
- Double Tostada
- Power Menu Burrito
- XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito
Taco Bell continues to work on its “All Access” strategy to nurture a frictionless experience with guests. As of Q2, the brand had kiosks in more than 4,900 locations and expects to have the full U.S. rollout finished this year. Delivery through partner Grubhub is also live in 4,500 or so units. There are more than 11 million registered Taco Bell users for its mobile and online ordering system.
In Q2, value and innovation drove the impressive comp. The Grande Nachos Box, which ran $5, peaked at 10 percent sales mix.
This is the second big menu change for Taco Bell in 2019. The chain started the year by deciding 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.
The brand’s previous value construct was centered around the $1 bar. In 2018, perhaps in response to McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu—Taco Bell said it would tag another 20 items to its $1 offerings, which it did.