Saturday, July 3, 2021

Taco Bell Evolving Faster, Fresher, with Flavor

Fresher food faster drives sales at most restaurants in fact 43.6% of all restaurant visits occur at a fast-food drive-thru according to NPD. Taco Bell has been driving new electricity into its brand with partnerships in an effort two engage new and current customers. Taco Bell wants more customers and is out to win the battle for share of stomach.

Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® recently stated that Taco Bell excels at implementing the FIVE Pillars of customer engagement when they think about creating a new Limited Time Offer (LTO) or new branded invitation. With the introduction of the Naked Chicken Chalupa at Taco Bell they are looking to reinvent its own game-changing invention like no adversary in the chicken wars could, by testing a craveable plant-based shell alternative. Meet the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell, a new menu innovation that gives vegetarian and veggie-curious fans everywhere reasons to shell-ebrate. Think about the FIVE Pillars and how this new partnership works:

Five Pillars of customer engagement:

1.       Understand your customers

2.       Build lasting customer loyalty

3.       Create personalized and targeted campaigns

4.       Get real-time customer feedback

5.       Measure success in revenue

Taco Bell is pushing the limits of the status quo of what vegetarian mashups look and taste like. Thanks to the masterminds of the Taco Bell Test Kitchen, the newest specialty is made from a pea protein-based proprietary blend that’s breaded*, shaped into the unique Chalupa form and then crisped to order. The shell is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association and proves Taco Bell’s long-standing commitment to ensuring more people— no matter their lifestyle — get to enjoy bold flavors and try the latest food obsessions. 

Just like the traditional Naked Chicken Chalupa, which was released onto menus earlier this month, the limited-time vegetarian counterpart takes crispy chicken creativity to the next level. It features the new shell that is then filled with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and flavorful avocado ranch sauce for a mouthful of delicious goodness. As with many Taco Bell favorites, fans can customize their order to remove ingredients containing dairy or egg to make an item vegan and that rings true for the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell.

“We’ve long been a food disruptor, and this time is no different,” says Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. “We’ve seen our industry follow patterns of sameness, but we understand that consumers are looking for creativity and craveability in this space. So, whether someone is craving plant-based protein or crispy chicken or gooey cheesiness, we have something that’s not only flavorful, but also uniquely Taco Bell.” 

The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell is currently testing at only one Taco Bell location (2222 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, California) until June 27, 2021, while supplies last. It will be priced at $3.49 plus tax, giving fans a new way to indulge at a great value.

Taco Bell’s one-restaurant tests are a quick and agile way for the brand to serve up unique twists on traditional foods and fan-favorite Taco Bell menu items that push the boundaries of innovation. The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell joins previous one-restaurant tests, including Crispy Chicken Wings in July 2020, Crispy Cheese Dippers and Crispy Cheese Nacho Fries in March 2021 and, most recently, the Cravetarian Taco in April 2021. By testing and offering a wide breadth of craveable alternatives to meat options, Taco Bell doubles down on its pledge to bring more innovation to the vegetarian space. 

The brand remains excited about teaming up with Beyond Meat to create a new innovative plant-based protein, something not quite yet seen in the industry, to appeal to an even broader audience of consumers. Details on specific timing and market(s) to come.

How are you creating new electricity?  Today, new partnerships can drive sales in foodservice today as your brand is searching for the new electricity to help drive the brand forward. Ask yourself do I need a push our brand forward in search of new electricity?

According to Johnson, “Brand relevance is in part driven with innovation in new food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity.”  That said, what are you waiting for?

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, developing brands, unique urban clothing, grocerant positioning, Fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

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