Taco Bell's Doritos Locos national launch in March helped give the chain the biggest improvement in consumer perception in the QSR category in the first half of 2012, according to YouGov BrandIndex's research.
But the latest data shows the brand's new Cantina Bell menu isn't carrying the same buzz.
Taco Bell's consumer perception with quick-service consumers was on the upswing from February through the end of May, coinciding with its Doritos Locos launch. As indicated by YouGov BrandIndex's scores, for two brief times over that period – the end of April and May -- Taco Bell reached the same or better perception levels as the average of the top national QSR dining chains. Taco Bell stayed ahead of smaller rival Chipotle by a healthy margin.
However, the introduction of the Cantina menu on July 5 sent the brand's index score down, bringing it below Chipotle's levels.
Taco Bell, Chipotle and the top national QSR chains were measured with two of YouGov BrandIndex's scores:
- Buzz score, which asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" and
- Index score, YouGov BrandIndex's overall brand health measurement, which is calculated from averaging the following sub-scores: impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and willingness to recommend.
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
Taco Bell's buzz score swung from 15 in early March to 23 at the end of May. Chipotle climbed from 11 in early March to a peak of 17 on May 1 then back down to 12 at the end of the month.
For Index score, Taco Bell remained at a steady range of 19 to 21 from February through May while the QSR sector average stayed at around 25. During Taco Bell's strongest run from April through the end of May, Chipotle's Index score was five or six points behind.
In June, Taco Bell announced that the Doritos Locos launch was the most successful in the brand's 50-year history. More than 100 million were sold in about 10 weeks.
A chart of the YouGov BrandIndex scores is available here.
Read more about trends and statistics.