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For Taco Bell, value does not mean cheap; rather, value is essential to its very identity and promise to customers. To help communicate that positioning, the fast food chain seeks to combine descriptions of the price-based value it offers with clear indications of how innovative, different, and unique its appeals can be. In a sense, it aims to have the best of both worlds.

The most recent example of this effort involves its $1 menu. In response to an announcement by the industry leader McDonald’s that it would be issuing expanded menu options for $1, $2, and $3, virtually all fast food providers issued their own promotions. For Taco Bell, the effort was not particularly difficult, because it already had $1 options available.

But in seeking to promote those options, to ensure consumers were well aware of them, it avoided a conventional price-based appeal. Instead, it highlighted the ability to find a good food value as a type of status symbol. Citing the “opulence” that can result from finding value, it tells a story in which people who can find a great price are the real leaders of society. Its “Belluminati” advertising campaign showcases smart consumers who know that they can get something special and different from Taco Bell, making them notable members who stand out from the wider market of fast food eaters.

Furthermore, Taco Bell actively innovates in its offerings. Whether in the flavors of its taco shells or in the ingredients it piles together in a single “Stacker,” the company emphasizes that it is always seeking something different and unique to offer consumers. By combining innovative and limited-time offers—conventionally elements that allow companies to raise their prices—with value pricing, Taco Bell hopes to lure many more customers to its stores. In this mature market, such a distinct and diverse offer may be the real secret sauce.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is Taco Bell responding to competitors’ value menu moves?
  2. How is Taco Bell spreading its value message, and on what aspects is that message based?

Source: Jessica Wohl, “Taco Bell Gears Up for Value Fight in Fast Food,” Advertising Age, December 15, 2017

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