Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos and a fresh cantina lineup?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 July 2012

Wonder which one will survive?

Taco Bell has introduced a new Cantina Bell menu with recipes by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia. While the move might be a fresh offering for patrons, it is a schizophrenic turn for the brand. I say that because a brand offering a fresh, gourmet cantina lineup while selling Doritos Locos Tacos seems at odds with itself. 

“A taco shell made from Doritos is very much on strategy for the Cheez Whiz-loving, fourth-meal-eating, happy-you’re-open-until-3 a.m. demographic.”

Doritos Locos Tacos

Doritos Locos Tacos aside, the Taco Bell brand seems conflicted. The cantina menu is designed to grab business from competitors, but I have yet to be asked by someone working at Chipotle if I would like a squirt of “Cheez Whiz ” on my burrito.

The reason the Doritos Locos Tacos were the most successful fast-food menu item ever launched was because it matched perfectly with Taco Bell’s brand. A taco shell made from Doritos is very much on strategy for the Cheez Whiz-loving, fourth-meal-eating, happy-you’re-open-until-3 a.m. demographic.

Now, Taco Bell is attempting to be all things to all customers and, in the process, will lose share in its current market. A transition towards cantina may be part of Taco Bell’s plan, but if so, it should be done deliberately and must involve the scrapping of many current menu items.

It appears that Taco Bell assumes places like Chipotle are successful simply because it sells cantina-style food. Not true. Chipotle’s success is largely due to a brand that is consistent with purpose, products and its customer base.

In the same breath that I am advising against Taco Bell’s recent move, I would just as quickly advise against Chipotle incorporating anything Doritos related into its lineup. The two don’t mesh. Nor does it look like it will.

Taco Bell would do well to focus on why its Doritos Locos Tacos are such a hit. In fact, the company should not try to narrow the gap with its cantina competitors, but widen it.

There is a market for Taco Bell, but it will never own that market until someone there realizes that the brand of Taco Bell is not even about Mexican food. Until that realization strikes, Taco Bell will see its strong Doritos Locos Tacos momentum challenged by future product failures.


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