It may seem like a lofty goal, but Taco Bell is dead set on not only redefining value at the quick-service level, but also delivering it to consumers in a variety of ways.
Specifically, the brand is focusing on four key areas: the low- and high-price end of the menu, new menus and promotions, and limited-time offers, said Chris Brandt, vice president of brand marketing, in a press call on Thursday.
At the low-price end of the menu, the brand is testing a new $1 Cravings menu in two markets: Sacramento, California, and Kansas City, Missouri. Its development was spurred by the need for a dollar menu that consumers both need and crave, Brandt said.
“There are a core group of customers that really want a dollar menu,” he added. “They love these things and, frankly, they need them. And we need to make sure that our dollar menu is still relevant with consumers.”
As it stands, the $1 Cravings menu features 12 items for $1, including products like the Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla, Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller, Churros, Spicy Beef Mini Quesadilla, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, and Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito.
“We have what consumers really want on the value menu, not just things that [are cheap],” Brandt said.
He added that many consumers feel like they’re compromising when they order from value menus, with items they want often missing from the lineup. Taco Bell wanted to avoid this with the new $1 Cravings menu, Brandt said.
The menu has been in the most recent test phase for just three weeks; if customer feedback is as high as Taco Bell hopes—and expects—the dollar menu will roll out nationwide later this year.
On the higher-priced end of the menu, Taco Bell is continuing development of the Cantina Bell Menu, which launched last year in association with celebrity chef Lorena Garcia. The menu offers everything from steak quesadillas to fajitas and burrito bowls, all for under $5.
“We feel like we have a really strong proposition for around five bucks, whereas competitors are offering this for much more—eight or nine bucks a pop,” Brandt said.
Later this month, the brand will also launch the Cantina Double Steak Quesadilla, which the brand has “high hopes for,” he said, adding that the new ingredients and offerings on the Cantina Bell menu have allowed Taco Bell to “broaden our scope and maybe get consumers that weren’t as frequent Taco Bell users in more often.”
When it comes to creating new menus and promotions that meet changing consumer desires, the brand recently luanched Happier Hour, a daily promotion that takes advantage of the growing interest in snacking—or as Brandt called it, “clockless eating.”
Every day from 2 to 5 p.m., guests can order any regular-sized beverage (including specialty beverages) and Loaded Grillers for $1 each.
“There’s a natural lull in your day from 2 to 5 p.m., and we’re trying to elevate your vibe, if you will, with a happy hour offering that’s basically drinks and appetizers,” Brandt said.
He said the brand also uses limited-time offers to drive consumer interest and deliver on the value proposition. For example, the brand recently announced the return of the fan-favorite Beefy Crunch Burrito, which features Flamin’ Hot Fritos combined with seasoned ground beef, rice, nacho cheese sauce, and reduced-fat sour cream.
The item will return May 23 and will be available for 99 cents.
Combined, these changes and additions are helping the brand deliver the highest value possible to each consumer sub-segment at Taco Bell, said Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer for the brand.
“Whatever you’re craving, arguably we’ll have the best value for that craving. If it’s our Cantina proposition at $5, I’d argue that’s the best value you can find on the block as it relates to fresh-Mex,” he said. “If you look at, on the low end, from a dollar standpoint, I think it goes further than any other brand you’ll find out there offering dollar solutions. And even when you get into some other things, like Doritos Locos Tacos, there’s no better value than a one-of-a-kind eating experience.”
He said, ultimately, the brand wants customers to be surprised by both the value and quality they’re getting at Taco Bell.
“Regardless of where you choose to access our brand, we want you to walk away saying, ‘Wow, what I just got for what I paid, that can’t be matched anywhere else,’” Niccol said.
By Mary Avant