Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taco Bell Wants to Beat Chipotle at Their Own Game

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM

It's a little weird to me that Taco Bell would want to try to take on Chipotle, considering that one difference between the two brands is that Chipotle actually cooks stuff in their restaurants, instead of reheating and hydrating, but things can change. If I were in charge of Taco Bell, I'd probably aim to just be better than Del Taco. It's ok just to be cheap and good enough sometimes:

For a chain that made its name peddling cheap eats in the wee hours of the morning, a higher-priced menu may not appeal to the restaurant’s primary customer. The Taco Bell frequenter is an 18- to 24-year-old, value-conscious male, says Jeff Bernstein, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York.

“It’s definitely targeted to a younger crowd,” he said.

Former franchisee Brumagin also is skeptical and says introducing somewhat fancier, higher-priced food could go the way of a healthy menu experiment in the mid-’90s that he called an “abysmal failure.”

Taco Bell is clearly taking cues from its higher-end rival.

“Chipotle is an opportunity because what it’s done has expanded the trial and usage of Mexican food,” Creed said at the investor meeting in New York Dec. 7. “It’s got people to believe they can pay $8 for a bowl or a burrito.”

Taco Bell can make food “every bit as good as Chipotle,” he said, and instead charge less than $5.

While Chipotle’s $7 or $8 burritos include ingredients such as naturally raised pork seasoned with thyme and juniper berries, Taco Bell’s menu now features the 99-cent Beefy Crunch Burrito that’s topped with Flamin’ Hot Fritos.

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