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.
(SOUNDBITE OF CRUNCH)
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)
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
(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)
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.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.