Tuesday, April 29

Taco Bell Goes Premium

I'd be interested to get everyone's take on this ... Taco Bell is launching a new more upscale version of itself ... U.S. Taco.  It's more upscale and more "Americanized" than it's more casual counterpart.  No Doritos tacos and no waffle tacos here, but they do plan to sell booze.

The question is ... can a brand expand beyond the level it's known for and build a business?

In this case I'm not sure that's the point.

With a new brand name (US Taco) and a heritage of food prep (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut), the pieces may be in place.  The bigger issue for me is whether there is a market for it and is the company willing to invest the marketing it needs to launch a new brand.  It's less of an extension of Taco Bell and more the launch of a new concept.

So instead of competing with Taco Bell per se, or the other fast food chains, it'll compete more with the other more formal yet quick options like say Olive Garden or even Chipolte.   It'll be interesting to see if the parent company (Yum Brands) can make it in this space ... and if they really bring something unique, special and premium, regardless of the tie to Taco Bell.

What's your experience?  JIM.


  1. Similar concepts are proven successful in southern California. In fact, US Taco seems to be a flattering imitation of a concept called Taco Asylum in Costa Mesa, CA...about 5 miles from the Bell's Irvine headquarters. I think the question is how well will it travel? On the other hand, for many small communities Taco Bell was/is Mexican food.

  2. I think using a different brand name is key (the way that upscale Toyota is Lexus); the Taco Bell brand has been associated with low-priced menu (and image) for so long that it'd be practically impossible to introduce the new upscale concept under the same name. But under a different name, they have a shot, especially if they come up with a meaningful differentiation from competitors.