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    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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Taco Bell, breakfast defectors

Taco Bell, which has a disadvantage in entering the breakfast daypart, is taking that disadvantage head-on with its new campaign asking consumers to be breakfast defectors and eat something different at Taco Bell.

The disadvantage is that Taco Bell does not have brand permission to enter the breakfast segment because of its name and brand equity. It is about cheap Tex-Mex food, usually eaten by night owls on their late-night visits.

That has been enough to make the fast food chain a success. But, as I’ve explained before, the only daypart with opportunity in the slipping fast food industry is breakfast. That’s why you’ve seen more of the chains target their marketing dollars to getting more customers for breakfast.

Taco Bell has struggled in this area because of its lack of brand permission, but the new campaign is interesting because it is positioned against the rest of the market while leveraging its own equities.

That’s one of the tenants of any brand marketing. (Or any kind of marketing, for that matter.) To be a true choice, you must be positioned against the other options in the market.

The Taco Bell Breakfast Defector campaign relies on a belief

What Taco Bell is doing here is aligning itself with a belief, that all fast food breakfast is basically the same, and using its own brand equity to say what it has is different. Defect from breakfast and choose differently.

It must be working because, even though Taco Bell has been serving breakfast for more than a year now, market-leading McDonald’s has recently taken to social media by offering consumers (at least in some selected markets) a free Egg McMuffin if they bring in their Taco Bell breakfast receipt.

McDonald’s has been having its own problems, which are reflective of the industry itself. Sales all across the board are down and McDonald’s is responding by paring down its menu to offset what had previously been an industry trend: Adding more and more menu items in an attempt to stave off lost market share. But in doing that, chains have lost whatever equity they’ve had.

The major problem most of the fast food brands have is that they don’t know who they are for or what their brand means. The brands basically stand for cheap, quick food today because the expanded menus told consumers that.

At least Taco Bell has an understanding of its brand, even though I suspect its lack of brand permission will prevent it from being a market leader. The chain also understands the customer base (tired of the same old thing for breakfast) and that what it offers that is different.

Fast food brands should take notice because breakfast consumers are defecting.

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