Taco Bell and Doritos: A Collaboration Made in Late Night Heaven

The latest in the line of Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco BellIt seems like an eternity since the release of the first Doritos Locos Taco premiered at Taco Bell the spring of 2012. It was like flirting with a new crush. The brief first meeting, the teasing that you may see them again soon, and finally you two ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after. This is pretty much what happened with the original Doritos Locos Taco; a Cheesy Nacho taco shell filled with Taco Bell’s standard taco fillings. What made this partnership so successful is that both brands are targeting the same demographic with the stance that Doritos and Taco Bell are “social food,” the partnership continued to evolve and Taco Bell listened to what their fans wanted.

Taco Bell’s current “Live Mas” campaign drives this social experience home when it comes to late night cravings. What is better after a night out on the town than to grab some of your favorite chips or a late night taco? Taco Bell and Doritos created a partnership that brought these two food favorites together and changed the QSR world forever. At first, the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco was introduced. Soon after there were demands for another Doritos shell: Cool Ranch. When it was officially announced a few months later, Taco Bell and Doritos fans rejoiced and thought the brand partnership had reached its pinnacle.

Then came the announcement this past summer that another Locos Taco would be making its debut on Aug. 22nd: Fiery. Taco Bell listened to fans when creating the new shell. Fans wanted something spicy and highly seasoned. This third new flavor of shell being added only strengthens the future of the Locos taco.

Fan favorites may play a role in the selection of new Locos Tacos flavors.The three main things that made this collaboration successful were:

  1. Having the same target audience
  2. Continuing to wow said audience with new products
  3. Taco Bell listened to what their fans wanted and they delivered in a timely manner.

The continuation of the partnership is key. Brand partnerships help to create new, innovative ideas and continue to breathe new life into two established brands while surprising fans and critics alike. Who knows when either party will have enough of the other, or if fans may demand that each Locos taco stay on the menu permanently? For now, it looks like there will be a new Locos taco making an appearance every nine months or so. Rest easy Doritos and Taco Bell fans—the Locos taco will not be disappearing soon.

Photo credit: Taco Bell and Food Digital

QSR Insights: Customer Service Key at QSRs

Getting a smile from the person behind the counter at a restaurant improves your experience and has the ability to make your day. Although the product is important, taste and portion size aren’t the only things that diners are seeking from their restaurant experience. Unfortunately, customer service can often be put on the back burner because restaurants are so focused on the product.

Low prices and quality might be why people choose where they dine, but customer service is what brings them back. According to research from Mintel, 74% of respondents said that rude service was the reason they would not return to a restaurant. This reason was indicated more than unsatisfying food, unclean bathrooms, and slow service. The food could be exceptional and the restaurant sparkling clean, but a staff member’s bad attitude will ruin a customer’s experience.


Some QSRs are known for the extra lengths to which they go for their customers. Starbucks landed at number 3 on QSR Magazine’s top 50 brands in August. Customer satisfaction is the Starbucks team’s common goal and they are consistently working together to achieve it. From the choice of light fixtures to hand writing your name on the cup, the customer’s experience is their highest priority. If you’re new to Starbucks, the employees have an efficient system to guide you to what will become your favorite order. Starbucks has proven that paying attention to the small customer service details resonates with the customer.

Making customer service a number one priority would make top QSRs stay competitive with each other. A restaurant could lose a customer for life with just one experience of poor customer service. Employees who smile, greet a customer, and make recommendations can make a customer feel valued. Will QSRs begin to focus more on customer service?


QSR Insights: The Chipotle “Twitter Hack”

Odd tweets from ChipotleRecently, Chipotle’s main Twitter account, @ChipotleTweets, posted a series of random, seemingly unrelated tweets during the course of one hour. After a few days, Chipotle then came forward and announced that the hack was actually a publicity stunt to help promote “Adventurrito,” a 20-day long treasure hunt to help celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary.

Did the faux hack work in the brand’s favor or was it a miss?

Read my take on it at FastCasual.com


QSR Insights: QSR Brands on Vine

Since its launch in January, Vine has grown to become a social media mainstay, attracting more than 13 million users.  The platform, which allows users to share six-second videos with other Vine users, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, initially attracted the attention of teens and millennial. However, brands were relatively quick to sign up for Vine and added it to their repertoire of social media channels.

Why should QSR brands join Vine? Here’s a quick overview:

Wendy's uses Vine to engage customersIntegrated trending hashtags. A recent update to the app now allows users to search trending hashtags, highlighting a wider variety of content. This is not only helpful to everyday users, but also for brands who want to take advantage of a relatable hashtag for their brand. And since Vine allows posting to Twitter, it’s also a great opportunity for brands to use signature hashtags as a way to cross promote and create a halo effect across the two platforms.

Offers a quick, imaginative way to tease or promote a product. Vine is the perfect platform for LTO teasers; it required little effort or production. The fact that Vine is limited to only a few seconds of video also plays into the cravings of fans.

Allows brands to play off of fan behaviors and trends. Loyal QSR fans interact with food and products in specific ways, from special drink combinations to dipping French fries in ice cream. And while photos work great, there’s sometimes a greater sense of emotion when seeing something or someone in action As fans’ attention span continues to decrease, short and sweet videos are becoming more prevalent and preferred. Wendy’s recently joined Vine and has been posting videos of common dining practices, such as dipping French fries into a Frosty. The video and audio aspect of Vine is a good platform to highlight these trends.

Tips for QSR brands joining Vine:

Red Mango promotes via Vine

Be relevant and creative with your content. “Think of Vine as Twitter for still and animated images,” says Dan Kim, founder and COO of frozen yogurt chain Red Mango, a QSR brand that’s been effectively using Vine for a few months now.

Remember that social media etiquette still applies. While Vine might seem frivolous and separated slightly from big social media players like Facebook and Twitter, QSR brands shouldn’t forget social best practices such as engaging with fans, watching and monitoring for any community management crisis, etc.


QSR Insights: Taco Bell’s Millennial Marketing Strategy

Taco BellWe’ve already identified as Taco Bell as winners with Millennials. So I wasn’t surprised when they announced the kids’ meals and toys on the menu have been discontinued. Though some kids will be disappointed, let’s be honest: who is Taco Bell’s core audience? Millennials.

According to the MailOnline report, kids meals and toys “weren’t boosting sales anyway—and [Taco Bell] plans instead to focus on appealing to young adults in their 20s and early 30s.” CEO Greg Creed contributed to this article by identifying Millennials as their core target to engage with the “Millennial edgy brand” Taco Bell is. He continued, “having a kid’s meal was inconsistent.”

Point is, Millennials want to be involved. Without the distraction of the kid’s menu and toys, Taco Bell believes it’ll drive traffic through Taco Bell that much more. The more obvious the restaurant makes its targeting toward Millennials, the more they’ll notice, share, and participate.

Read full article here

Photo credit: Alexa LaSpisa


QSR Insights: Brands Use Gamification Strategies To Promote Loyalty

FrontFlip is an example of a game-based app that appeals to restaurant consumers.Restaurants have a unique opportunity to gain loyal customers by implementing game tactics into their strategy. To most people, spending time to get involved in restaurants’ gamified strategy seems like a new phenomenon, but it is actually just another way of promoting something brands have always strived for: loyalty.

Brands have always used tactics to enhance consumer loyalty, but technology has made these tactics easier and more efficient. According to FastCasual.com, average Americans spend two or more hours on their phones a day, and 50 minutes of that time is spent playing games. That statistic helps explain how apps like FrontFlip are performing so well.

So how can restaurants incorporate a unique gamified strategy into their loyalty programs or promotions?  One important feature is simplicity. A loyalty game needs to be simple, but fun at the same time—otherwise, no one will take part. Also, users should be allowed to share their interactive experiences through their social media outlets. This is a good way to recruit more users.

Starbucks launched a successful gamification app called My Starbucks Rewards.  Upon registration, users are automatically at the “welcome” level. Depending on their loyalty and frequency, users can be promoted to higher levels and earn stars. Users are able to pay for their coffee with their Starbucks app, which tracks stars to redeem rewards. You can even earn stars for buying Starbucks coffee from the grocery store. Starbucks also uses their app to notify its most loyal fans about new offers when first opening the app.

Loyalty programs such as the My Starbucks Rewards app are a smart way to capture Millennials’ attention using gamification. According to the study American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, “Nearly half of Millennials (45%) will go out of their way to shop at stores offering rewards programs.” A loyalty program that offers customer rewards is an extremely effective strategy for restaurants. Gaining new customers and retaining existing ones is an achievable goal when stores offer benefits and rewards to their audience.

Any restaurant has the opportunity to implement this marketing strategy. Customers can be rewarded for almost anything–number of check-ins, menu items ordered, first time visits, etc. There could be leaderboards that show who the most loyal people are. There is also an opportunity to get staff and employees involved by letting employees compete for achievements, or even allowing customers to rate the employees. Staff and customers could be rewarded for any kind of behavior a restaurant is promoting, and it will likely be successful as long as it is a fun and simple interaction.


QSR Insights: Redefining Value As More Than A Price Point

DQ Five Buck LunchAre we reaching the point where dollar menus are losing their luster? Maybe.  Nowadays, perceived value for menu items is becoming more important to customers.

According to a study conducted by Phoenix Marketing International, customers don’t mind paying higher prices as long as there is perceived value in the items or bundle of items and, “ads that include some sort of value message are significantly more likely to drive QSR visits than other ads in the category.”

Meaning, dollar menus and price points aren’t the only value positioning driving traffic to QSRs. Bundling, family meals, and combo meals are other types of value offerings that are increasing traffic.

  • Dairy Queen’s $5 Buck Lunch is a one-of-a-kind combo lunch deal in the QSR category: a value meal that includes dessert. The $5 Buck Lunch is available 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at participating Dairy Queen locations and offer the customer a choice of a ¼ lb GrillBurger with cheese, 3-piece Chicken Strip Lunch or a Chili Cheese Dog, plus fries, a drink and your choice of small sundae.
  • Pizza Hut’s $10 Dinner Box is an example of bundle deal that satisfies a large group of friends or family. It includes one medium rectangular 1-topping pizza, 5 breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce, and 10 cinnamon sticks with icing, all in one convenient box.
  • Wendy’s Right Price Right Size menu gives customers an opportunity to bundle items together and mix and match to create a personal dining experience.  The menu offers items that range from 99 cents to $1.99 and includes offerings such as Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, Value French Fries, Small Chili, Spicy Chicken Go Wrap and Small Original Chocolate Frosty.

These are just a few examples of how the traditional value menu has evolved over time. A practice that once started with dollar offerings and smaller portions has reemerged as a satisfying option that is still easy on the wallet, but lets customers redefine value to meet their needs.

QSR Insights: Chipotle Embraces Trends in Millennial Marketing


Millennials seek adventure not only in their activities but also in their eating. This month, Chipotle is launching a 20th anniversary treasure hunt called “Adventurrito.”  The 20-day-long treasure hunt beginning July 13, 2013 consists of daily puzzles for followers to solve and a shot at the grand prize: free burritos for 20 years.

The countdown on the website to this anniversary event gives Millennials anticipation and excitement leading up to July 13th.

According to Jeff Fromm’s “New Definition of Brand Value, the functional, emotional and participative benefits divided by the price show the value of the brand. Once again, Chipotle has hit the nail on the head.

To read the full blog post please visit MillennialMarketing.com

Photo credit: Michael Brooks Jr.

A thoughtful design, planning, and implementation of a catering strategy could significantly boost quick serves’ sales.

QSR Insight Bite: QSR Magazine offers 5 Catering Tips for QSRs

As a whole, the restaurant community is beginning to understand how and why the layering of catering and off-premise opportunities can alter their unit economics by increasing their revenue stream. As a quick-serve operator, focus on filling consumer demand for catering and experience a serious lift in sales.

Read more from the source: qsrmagazine.com

QSR Insights: 3 Reasons Why Brands Should Join Tumblr

DQ Tumblr

Founded in April 2007, microblogging platform Tumblr (often stylized as tumblr) quickly became an Internet mainstay, with more than 75,000 users signing up within the first two weeks of the site’s launch. Spanning fashion, food, sports, travel, photography, animals, and a variety of other topics, Tumblr is now home to more than 95 million blogs, with more and more users joining daily.

So what sets it apart?

Like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and other social channels, the overarching goal of Tumblr is promoting and sharing content. However, Tumblr is unique in that it allows multimedia elements to be shared with greater fluidity; a single blog can contain static photos, GIFs or animations, videos, and audio. Tumblr also offers a high level of customization: HTML coding helps alter blogs so that no two are exactly alike, making them almost as customizable as a full website. A “dashboard,” similar to The Facebook news feed is the user’s interface where he or she can view, “like” or re-blog content posted by other users.

 Why should QSR brands start blogging on Tumblr?

Tumblr is not just for the everyday user looking at high-fashion photos or GIFs of cats. Recently, the site has piqued the interest of several brands looking to share relevant content with fans who, according to research conducted by Tumblr, spend more time per average visit on Tumblr than on any other social platform.

Here are three specific reasons that QSRs should blog on Tumblr:

  1. Content for brands does not have to be original. Many brands are simply re-blogging content curated by other Tumblr pages that reflect the brand’s overall theme or mission. The typical ratio for fan vs. original content for most brands on Tumblr is about 80:20.

  1. In terms of community management and content creation, perhaps one of the best features of Tumblr is the lack of a CSR platform. This allows users to engage on a brand level, rather than a customer service level. Brands are therefore able to share beautiful, engaging content without getting lost in the hubbub of comments or replies. Tumblr essentially eliminates any customer service-type posts that QSR brands often see on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

  1. QSR brands can utilize the high level of customization to fit a specific LTO, campaign strategy, consumer trend, etc. Dairy Queen, for example, recently launched a Tumblr page centered around the campaign of “Fan Food, Not Fast Food,” re-blogging content primarily of fans interacting with their products, not just the products themselves. Another great example: fast-casual Italian restaurant Fazoli’s launched a special Tumblr page last summer to promote a nation-wide bread stick tour, posting photos from the trip as well as clues for the upcoming tour locations.

General Tips and Guidelines on getting started:

  • Get familiar with the Tumblr community. Before creating a Tumblr account for your brand, take a look at what’s going on in the Tumblr community—not just with other brands, but with the average, everyday user. One behavior you’ll probably notice is that a lot of Tumblr users add their own message or opinion to a piece of content prior to re-blogging it. QSR Brands can utilize this common Tumblr practice by adding their own perspective to previously curated content. It’s a good idea to search tags.

  • Utilize customization. After creating a Tumblr page, customize it to best fit the brand’s image and overall aesthetics. Keep everything from colors to fonts to layout in mind and consult with designers if needed.

  • Know your brand’s voice. Treat Tumblr like other social platforms to keep the brand’s voice top of mind when curating content from other Tumblr users. Consistency is important.

  • Consider what’s worth a “reblog.” Similar to sharing on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter, a reblog on Tumblr is a post’s stamp of approval. When curating content, consider what would make a user want to re-blog the post to his or her personal page.

  • Don’t be afraid to utilize branded content. The brands that are performing best at Tumblr aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to content; they’re sprinkling in repurposed images, graphics and other media from past and current campaigns to supplement posts from other blogs. Turning a six second clip from a YouTube video into a GIF is one simple way to create a post. Coca-Cola has some great examples of this. Social platforms have also made it easy to share one piece of content across a variety of channels. You can select “post to Tumblr” when adding a photo to Instagram and you can select “post to Twitter” when re-blogging a photo on Tumblr.

Additional insights and links: