Taco Bell plans to 'reinvent' QSR breakfast experience

Feb. 24, 2014 | by Alicia Kelso

Taco Bell's breakfast menu will officially launch nationwide on March 27, and the company has big ambitions for the daypart.

On a media call today, Taco Bell's president Brian Niccol said the breakfast launch is going "to be another history moment for the brand ... and for QSR."

Executives anticipate the added daypart will also help push the company toward its goal of $14B in sales by 2022, from the $7B it made in 2012, when the goal was initially set. Breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the more than 5,500 restaurants nationwide, and each restaurant is hiring three additional team members to handle the influx of business.

To complement the new menu, Taco Bell will launch its biggest marketing campaign in history, according to CMO Chris Brandt. The campaign will begin Feb. 27 with teaser POP materials throughout the system. Additionally, TV and radio spots led by Deutsch L.A., packaging by Draftcb, and digital, social and PR support from DigitasLBi and Taylor will be featured.

"We think we have the right products, the right value equation and we think it's the right time. We're out to do one thing — change the face of breakfast," Brandt said. "We are taking classic breakfast items and giving them an innovative and unique Taco Bell twist. So (for example) it's not just a regular breakfast sandwich, we made the A.M. Crunchwrap; we think we'll reinvent the breakfast sandwich."

The menu

The A.M. Crunchwrap features scrambled eggs, a hash brown, melted cheese and bacon wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. It is one of the 13 new offerings making up the new menu, which boasts 19 new ingredients for the brand.

Other items include the Waffle Taco, a waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with scrambled eggs and cheese and served with a side of syrup; Cinnabon Delights; the Breakfast Burrito; a Grilled Taco; a Sausage Flatbread Melt; and more. (Check out some of the offerings here).

Rainforest-Certified coffee will also be served, as will Tropicana orange juice.

"Breakfast is the fastest-growing daypart in QSR and after years of the same old thing, we're confident our breakfast will wake up customers' morning routine," Brandt said. The menu, however, is "pretty tight" for QSR, to avoid operational complexities that have befallen some other brands.

"We want to make sure there is a great customer experience and keep people coming back for more," he said.

Part of the Liv Mas tagline

Niccol said the brand's loyal fans were the impetus behind the breakfast launch.

"We spend a lot of time putting our team members and customers at the center of everything we do. What all of them have said is 'we love Taco Bell.' What they've all asked us to do is to be better, more relevant and more accessible," he said. "We want to win in all dayparts. This is an opportunity for people to wake up and Live Mas and frankly, it's what our customers have been asking us to do for a long time."

The company's objective with its menu and marketing platforms is to get people "from buying Taco Bell to buying into Taco Bell," executives said. To do that, Taco Bell will find new ways to get engaged with its customers and expand its footprint to new markets throughout the country.

For the former objective, a mobile program "that's never been seen before," according to Niccol, will be rolled out this year. With its loyalty application, he said it will tie into fans' lifestyles. Executives wouldn't disclose more details about the mobile program at this time.

As part of its expansion strategy, Taco Bell expects at least 200 new restaurant throughout the country this year, up from 100 in 2013.

"This pace will be ongoing for awhile, we think. There are a lot of places we still are not," Niccol said. "We'll be showing up in rural, suburban and urban areas where traditionally we have not been."

All of these strategies are a way to get customers to buy into the brand, he added.

"We believe the world deserves the opportunity to live a little. If we can get our 150,000 employees get a little more out of their day, and help someone else do that too, it differentiates our brand," Niccol said.

Topics: Food & Beverage , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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