Taco Bell Aims To Hook Customers On 'Loco' Shell
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And today's last word in business takes us to the competition in the restaurant industry. Analysts are forecasting modest gains for that restaurant industry for 2012. After a tough couple of years so many people didn't have money to eat out, a few more do now. And Taco Bell is among the chains making some dramatic moves to get your attention.
As NPR's Allison Keyes reports, Taco Bell plans to spend around $75 million advertising a new and surprising type of taco, the Doritos Locos taco.
(SOUNDBITE OF VOICES)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Yes, sir, how have you been?
ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: Taco Bell is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week and it's getting big buzz from a new product.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: One Dorito Taco Supreme.
KEYES: Yep, that's a Doritos Locos Taco, with shells made from Nacho Cheese Doritos. Some might be skeptical of such a pairing but not Robert Mack of New Jersey.
ROBERT MACK: I love Doritos. I love Taco Bell and having them both at the same time, why didn't someone think of this sooner?
KEYES: NPR watched as he took his first bite.
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MACK: It's really good - the best of both worlds.
KEYES: It's everything that you dreamed it would be?
MACK: Yes, it is.
KEYES: Taco Bell manager Tita Fonis(ph) says the tacos are a hot item.
TITA FONIS: More men buy the Doritos Tacos.
GREG CREED: So I think it's having breadth of appeal.
KEYES: Greg Creed is Taco Bell's CEO and says brands like his want to differentiate themselves from others in the marketplace, partly by having a lot of new ideas that will appeal to their customers, to new customers and create new expectations for a known brand.
CREED: It's really about - on multiple platforms and multiple layers - being very innovative.
(SOUNDBITE OF TACO BELL COMMERCIAL)
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Just when you thought all the really good ideas were taken, introducing the new Doritos Locos tacos from Taco Bell.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
KEYES: You can't miss the TV ads for the new tacos, but other companies are trying to boost their shares too.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV ADS)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I had a shamrock shake.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: I hate you.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Yup. Subway broke the 200-calorie breakfast barrier.
CREED: When it comes to innovation, we've seen some terrific products come out.
KEYES: Kurt Schnaubelt is a director in the restaurant and food-service practice with the global consulting firm AlixPartners. He says companies are finding ways to deliver products in ways people don't expect - from Burger King testing a delivery service in the Washington, D.C. area, to...
KURT SCHNAUBELT: Things like White Castle offering wine in their restaurants, Starbucks offering wine. You know, these are ways for these brands to increase their sales.
KEYES: Schnaubelt adds it's also a way to do so during times when the eateries had been getting light volume. But no matter what crazy things restaurants might be trying - including a growing focus on social media - Schnaubelt says...
SCHNAUBELT: Food quality's still the number one thing consumers want out of a restaurant.
KEYES: Oh, and that wine at White Castle thing, only happening at one store in Lafayette, Indiana - for now.
Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.
INSKEEP: Cheers. That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene.
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