What You Can Learn From Taco Bell’s New Breakfast Menu

By katie simpson on April 4, 2014

If you missed it, Taco Bell has unleashed a witty new marketing campaign for their new breakfast menu. They've gathered Ronald McDonalds from around the United States, to try the new Taco Bell morning menu. All of them try different menu items and praise the new menu. As of Friday at 3 PM EST, this ad below has nearly 2 million views and multiple articles through the web.

So what does Taco Bell's new menu have to teach business? They have created a template for business hoping to expand their business with a new product or service.  The example doesn’t require millions of dollars or years of testing and research. Both big and small businesses can use Taco Bell’s breakfast launch as inspiration.

Why? The successful new venture requires you to find opportunity, test it, and remain true to your brand. 

Finding Opportunity

World Map

Take the time to map out where the opportunities could be. Photo credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via photopin cc 

Fast food chains have seen big dollar signs in breakfast for years. Market research firm Packaged Facts reported that breakfast sales at restaurants will reach $47.4 billion this year. As people become busier and have even less time to make their own food, demand for breakfast running with us continues to grow. Some mornings, it’s just easier to grab a breakfast sandwich with your coffee.

As we get busier, chains with breakfast menus see more and more money. McDonalds, for instance, makes up 20% of the chain's overall sales from their breakfast menu. Public market research showed Taco Bell that there was a massive financial opportunity and it's only getting bigger.

So how can you find new opportunities?  Areas to research can include:

  • Diversifying your product or service

Are there complementary products or services you can add to enhance your business?

  • Expanding your market

For instance, if you work in residential HVAC, can you expand to commercial or industrial services? Look at your typical customers. Are there areas of the market you’re missing?

  • Creating an alliance

Taco Bell did this recently with Doritos for the Dorito Loco Taco (try saying that ten times in a row). To be fair, this alliance was easy to create because both are owned by Pepsi Co.  With the Dorito Loco Taco, both companies get a new product, spend less, and benefit from each other’s customer base.

By allying with a complimentary company, each company benefits. 

Test it

Russian Pharmacy Items

Photo credit: Double–M via photopin cc

Before the launch, Taco Bell carefully researched and tested their new menu. They spent not one but seven years on testing and research. Not only did they test food taste and customer satisfaction, but also breakfast revenue at 6,000 select locations. This process took Taco Bell years, full of careful study and review of success and failures. The takeaway? An idea can sound great on paper, but it needs to be tested to prove potential success.

You don’t need to match Taco Bell’s methods for testing a new product or service especially if you’re a smaller business. A few low cost ways to test are: 

  • Create a landing page 

This is a great early marketing stage idea. A landing page can simply explain the service or features of your upcoming product. Ensure that there's a call to action in your page for pre-orders or requests to be informed when your product is ready. That way, you can see the actual demand or interest in your product.

  • Ask customers to beta test

With customers testing the product you can work out any issues before a full launch. WIth testers, be sure to have a full range of customer types, and ask for feedback. 

  • Provide a new service at a discount

This will encourage customers to try it.. You could have feedback be required to get the discount or rebate. 

In all cases, testing requires both time and effort. Still, there's a reason companies don’t cut corners on testing: it helps businesses have more successful full launches of new products or services. If they don’t, they risk wasting time and resources. A large failure hurts a brand, and can cost a company long term growth. 

Stay True to Your Brand

Taco Bell isn't the only fast food chain to try a breakfast menu. Just last year, Wendy's ended its nationwide breakfast menu. Why? One of the main issues Wendy's faced was mimicking their competitors. With steel cut oat meal and sausage biscuits, their menu looked like a hybrid of Starbucks and McDonalds. It didn’t appeal to Wendy’s core customers. 

Taco Bell, on the other hand, has kept their breakfast menu in line with their brand. Menu items include waffle tacos, and a  crunchwrap. Taco Bell is infusing classic breakfast food with taco and burrito themes, using known success in breakfast foods while staying true to their brand. Taco Bell's entrance into the food market is not just about getting a slice of the pie, but also providing their customers even more.


Waffle Taco is one of the many ways Taco Bell is staying true to their brand. Photo Credit: foodbeast

Staying true to your brand requires an understanding of what your brand is. If you haven't done this before, some questions to ask yourself include:

  • What makes your company unique?
  • What are your original values?
  • How would you define your company culture?
  • How do your customers perceive your company?

Taking the time to know your brand will help you incorporate a new project to strengthen your image and perception. With a new product or service in line with your brand, it keeps loyal customers returning, adding increased value to each customer (link fortune cookie).

In the end, Taco Bell's breakfast menu hasn't been live for even an entire month. It will take time to see if they can rival McDonald's dominance of the market. Nevertheless, they've made a strong investment, and shown businesses both large and small smart steps in growing business products or services.

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