Cannes Dossier: Taco Bell

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Competitive Landscape: Taco Bell

Taco Bell's target market includes people between the ages of 18 and 34 years. They also focus on African Americans and Hispanics. This spreadsheet and the research brief below contains further details of our findings.

TACO BELL — Background

  • Taco Bell is a fast food chain that offers Mexican-inspired food, headquartered in Irvine, California, U.S.
  • The company was founded in 1962 by American entrepreneur Glen Bell.
  • It has more than 7,000 locations and over 350 franchises worldwide.
  • The first Taco Bell opened in Downey, California, in 1962.
  • Between the 1980s and ’90s, Taco Bell began introducing new menu items and restaurant concepts.
  • In 1995, Taco Bell began a branding partnership with KFC, and in 1997 both became subsidiaries of Yum!.
  • Mike Grams is the company's Chief Operations and Development Officer, Greg Creed is the Chief Executive Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc., Julie Felss Masino is the Brand President of Taco Bell North America, Elizabeth Goodwin Williams is the President of Taco Bell International, and Liz Matthews is the Chief Food Innovation Officer.

Target customers

Perception on Social MEDIA

  • Taco Bell's top publications on Facebook have more than 17,000 likes and many positive comments about their food. There are almost no negative comments.
  • On Twitter, their top tweets have more than 3,000 likes and more than 500 retweets. The comments about their food are positive, and there are almost no negative comments, but there are requests for new additions to the menu.
  • Taco Bell's top pictures on Instagram have more than 50,000 likes, with similar feedback as the ones of Facebook and Twitter.

Direct Competitors

  • Taco Bell's direct competitors include McDonald's, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Tasty, and dim t.

Competitive Advantage

  • High Brand Loyalty — Consumers have an enormous amount of choice at a variety of price points.
  • Taco Bell is the only restaurant that adopted a healthy trans-fat free formula. Taco Bell altered its beef recipe and tidied up its menu of unnecessary additives such as high fructose corn syrup and unnatural dyes in 2017.
  • The "cantina concept," which includes using registers, self-serve kiosks, online ordering, delivery, or the Taco Bell app, makes it easier to fill all kind of customer demands.
  • Good Brand Marketing and Advertisement — Taco Bell’s content strategy involves influencer marketing, infiltrating organic trends, responding to customer comments on social media. They also send hand-written notes and wearable brand-related items to models, actresses, musicians, and other celebrities popular with young people.

Brief Bio of Global Chief Brand Officer Marisa Thalberg

  • Marisa Thalberg founded Executive Moms and currently serves as its president.
  • Starting in January 2018, Thalberg held the position of Chief Brand Officer at Taco Bell Corp.
  • She is the head of the nation's preeminent organization for women who are both mothers and professionals.
  • Thalberg is a member of the Mom Advisory Board of Lean Forward Media, LLC.
  • She was named a 2005 Pearl Honoree and will soon be profiled on UNICEF.

Research Strategy:

First, your research team did some background search and obtained very detailed information for Taco Bell, which was summarized in the attached spreadsheet. The team also searched for the company's foremost corporate leaders on corporate websites such as Bloomberg. To locate Taco Bell's target customers, the team searched through marketing websites such as Numerator and found demographic information for the company's target market.

The team researched to find out the perception of the brand by checking its social media profiles and found that in all three accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), the brand has a massive affirmative acceptance from people through the many positive comments, sharing, and tagging. There was hardly any negative comments, but people asked a lot for new dishes to be included in the menu. Your research team identified Taco Bell's main competitors from and conducted a deep search to find and summarize the competitive advantages of the company. The team collected the most repeated benefits cited on marketing portals, newspapers, and businesses websites.

Lastly, the team made a brief bio of the Global Chief Brand Officer, Marisa Thalberg, and listed her main activities and achievements. However, her studies weren't listed on any website or portal, including her own LinkedIn account, Bloomberg profile, or pieces of news and interviews of her.
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SWOT Analysis: Taco Bell

Taco Bell's strength relies on people who love taco bell as they give high brand loyalty. From the point of view of the company's market, their healthy trans-fat free formula is the key competitive advantage over other competitors.


  • Taco Bell is a popular brand, and people who love Taco Bell are loyal to the company.
  • Their healthy trans-fat free formula created a revolution in the current market, and the company considers it as its key competitive advantage over other competitors.
  • One factor contributing to the competitive advantage of the company is its target market.
  • Millennials are health conscious, and they enjoy healthy trans-fat free meals.
  • Another factor contributing to this strength is the fact that their competitors haven't made any healthy recipes in their stores and franchises.
  • In addition to this, Taco Bell has built its brand green conscious and replaced its cold drink cups with fully recyclable cold cups in 7,000 of its US restaurants.
  • Their recyclable cold cups represents 95% of its drinks sold.
  • The company started its green conscious campaign because it knows that its target demographics is its strength.
  • The company's target demographic is younger men (aged 18-34) who go out a minimum of 12 times a month.
  • Furthermore, among young millennials, Taco Bell successfully made itself a trend among the youth because of their healthy options in their menu.
  • The franchise even offers some vegan options that capture a part of their target market.
  • Additionally, the company serves their food cleanly, and it also has one of the quickest food services in the market, and this is why their customers love it.
  • Moreover, Taco Bell had always made suitable ads, and the company always finds new and exciting ways in marketing the brand.
  • Taco Bell has about 7,000 stores worldwide with more than 170,000 people employed in 30 countries, and it is continuously growing.
  • According to the company's annual report, the sales growth per year was at 6%.
  • From an internal perspective, the company has diverse revenue models that contribute to the company's good sales growth




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Category Trends: QSR

The current trends impacting the quick service restaurant category in the United States include mobile ordering and delivery with an ever-growing number of transactions, the demand of TO-GO or GRAB-AND-GO, fast-food restaurants dilemma with third-party delivery, embracing foreign flavors, and the growth of plant-based offerings.

Mobile ordering and delivery are accounting for an ever-growing number of transactions.

  • Delivery kiosks, mobile ordering, and pick-up are driving even more customers away from the four-wall experience.
  • Customers are now increasingly relying on mobile ordering and delivery because through this they can get services anytime, anywhere through their smartphones. Nearly 40 percent of customers admitted that they had placed a food order using their mobile phones within the past 90 days.
  • The increase in preference of mobile ordering and delivery is due to the digital ordering capabilities that enhance the customer experience making it easier for them to customize items and bypass long lines.


  • NPF research recently reported that because of the aging population, the total eating occasions had gone down to 3.9 percent since 2009. This means that fast food restaurants need to figure out new footprints since they have lesser customers who are dining in.
  • TO-GO or GRAB-AND-GO refer to high quality, freshly prepared food and beverage products packaged for easy pick-up and consumption.
  • Year-over-year up to 2018, To-go sales are approaching 9 percent from the 4 percent recorded in the past two years.
  • Speed and convenience are vital in the fast food restaurant industry as consumers of today want to be served at the earliest time possible. Therefore, players in the industry have to make sure that they have timely and easy access to food items.


  • As a result of continued customer's reliance on mobile ordering and delivery as well as the relevance of time efficiency, third-party delivery like Uber Eats is now an essential option for many fast-food chains. However, using those delivery platforms comes at a high fee.
  • High fees can decrease already low restaurant margins by up to 30 percent. The largest delivery services are known for typically charging restaurants commission fees of between 15 to 30 percent for every order. Also, this can cause loss of control by restaurants over customer data and reduced quality of customer service.


  • Fast food industry players are now including exotic blend in their menu and this sets them apart from their competitors as it is a strategy to survive in the market. The exotic flavors include every food, spices, fruits, and leaves that the customers were rarely served before.
  • Food offerings are now expanding in many directions as America increasingly continues to embrace a multi-cultural mix. Some new offerings include Korean, Filipino, and, Persian cuisines.


  • There is a plant-based movement happening, not just for ensuring a healthier way of life, but to bring more variety and texture. The demand for tasty and healthy food has increased significantly because of the increasing health awareness among consumers.
  • In 2017, consumers in the United States shelled out nearly $700 million on meat substitutes — a 25 percent increase from 2012. Nielsen reports that annual plant-based food sales have now surpassed $3.5 billion.
  • With the continued focus on health, climate, and animal welfare, the vegan movement continues as a 2019 trend. As a result, more and more fast-food restaurants are now offering plant-based foods in their menu.
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Taco Bell: Advertising Analysis

Taco Bell’s primary channels for advertising include Digital, TV, and Social Media.

Tacos Bell advertising efforts


  • Taco Bell is spending less on digital and increasing spending on TV ads.
  • Taco Bell spent about $64 million on TV ads for the month of January.
  • This makes TV advertisements their most preferred advertisement platform.
  • Additionally, Taco Bell was one of the first fast food chains to get into the growing trend of short video ads.


Social Media

Research Strategy

To provide the analysis for Taco Bell’s primary channels for advertising, we started our search by looking at the company’s annual report. However, we could not find substantial data on the company’s advertising channels. We then decided to look for data in other marketing and advertising industry publications and blogs like Marketing91 and Mobilemarketer. From this search, we were able to find data about the company’s advertisements in print and electronic media via newspapers, billboards, television, theaters, and magazines. We also found data about the company’s advertisements through social media platforms and digital platforms like mobile ads.

We then looked into articles by Media Radar and Skift, where we found the total annual expenditure by the company on advertisements. We also found how much Taco Bell spends on TV ads alongside information pertaining that TV is the company’s most preferred channel for advertising. From the frequency at which it is mentioned in the sources we found, we concluded that TV, Digital and Social Media are Taco Bell’s primary channels for advertising.

From Part 02
  • "The threats in the SWOT Analysis of Taco Bell are as mentioned:Threat from other eating joints/restaurants. New researches and the raised awareness among the public about the harmful health impacts of fast food consumption is a threat to Taco Bell’s fast food menus."
  • "I firmly believe our culture is a competitive advantage for Yum!. With culture as the driving force behind our results, I’m pleased to share the following highlights from 2018: in Worldwide system sales growth of 5 percent, led by 6 percent growth at KFC, 6 percent at Taco Bell and 1 percent at Pizza Hut"
  • " Strong brand recognition - Taco Bell products have strong brand recognition in the Technology & Operations industry. This has enabled the company to charge a premium compare to its competitors in Change management, Innovation, Strategy execution, Supply chain industry."
  • "Diverse Revenue models - Over the years Taco Bell Corp. has ventured into various businesses outside the Technology & Operations sector. This has enabled the company do develop a diversified revenue stream beyond Technology & Operations sector and Technology & Operations segment."
From Part 03
  • "Dine-in same-store sales have been negative in recent months. However, following November’s 1 percent lift across the industry, chains have achieved six straight months of positive growth. Minus a dip in May, every month since March has posted positive growth—a period of positivity unmatched for restaurants in more than three years."
  • "The risks are – if you’re a brand thinking about delivery – how can you control that experience if you’re using a third party"