Taco Bell has been making a serious effort lately to get a chunk of Chipotle's customer demographic and failing at it, but the Bell's new strategy to beat out Chipotle may be as ineffective as it is cunning. Taco Bell, piggybacking on its healthier Cantina Bell menu, is rolling out a new high-protein Cantina Power Menu aimed right at men, cheapos, paleo diet nuts -- and Chipotle's deep pockets.
Here are the top five reasons why Taco Bell just can't kick Chipotle's ass right now. Taco Bell gets two headpats for trying, but Chipotle is still gonna eat them for lunch.
5) Millennials want healthy fast-casual.
The buying power of Millennials is just as important (and lucrative) as their hipster clothing trends and despite Chipotle's recent price hike, the chain's burrito bowls are still flying outta the kitchens largely due to twenty-somethings buying them like mother*ckers. Millennials are as loyal to Chipotle as they are to their iPhones. They enthusiastically eat up the naturally-raised meats and organic ingredients and seem to prefer fresh ingredients and a low-pressure, hip atmosphere more than they do the less expensive mostly-meat and sloppy beans sold in the greasy, steamy fast food cave of Taco Bell.
When these same twenty-somethings are wasted at the end of the night when the trendy bars and hip clubs close, they are still inclined to horf Mexi melts and nachos Bellgrande So in essence, Chipotle is their expensive daylight date, whileTaco Bell is their cheap hookup freak.
4) Taco Bell has a reputation for being on the dark side
Taco Bell has serious and well-deserved street cred as the late-night fast-food hookup devil, whereas Chipotle is the lunch and dinnertime chosen-child angel of Mexican food. Taco Bell is the prince of darkness, and Chipotle is the fairy princess of light. This dark rep helps Taco Bell sell bean burritos with extra fire sauce to every drunk, stoner, vampire, online gamer and suicide case within a ten-mile radius of each of its stores, but customers with self-respect, self-restraint and full-time employment are choosing to forgo the drippy nacho cheese and instead fuel their tanks with Chipotle's fresh guacamole.
Taco Bell cannot hope to take a chunk out of Chipotle's bottom line while customers with expendable income think of the Bell as a sick, twisted indulgence they crawl to only because Chipotle isn't open in the middle of the night.
3) People will pay more for Chipotle
A moment of stark honesty here: Chipotle's menu items, on average, cost more than Taco Bell's. Chipotle's menu items look more visually appealing, they are better-prepared, they are fresher, they contain actual ingredients that you can pronounce with little effort, they taste like food rather than salty plops of barn leavings, and when you walk into a Chipotle your nostrils are treated to fine aromas of corn, cilantro and that amazing spicy red sauce they use on the Sofritas. The inside of a Taco Bell store reeks like pit sweat, old cheese, even older fryer grease, and burnt corn tortillas.
Taco Bell's food is cheaper. Its new menu items will also cost less than Chipotle's similar items. But consumers today have higher standards than ever before (new generations of foodies, sniff) and they will absolutely wallet-vote accordingly, and the nicer smells are a huge bonus.
Keep reading for more reasons why Taco Bell can't beat Chipotle...
1) The Paleo diet has an expiration date which is probably sooner than later
Paleo diet enthusiasts aren't exactly the same demographic as the folks who eat at Taco Bell consistently. So trying to get the paleo-crazies to hop on to the Taco Bell train is probably a respectable short-term strategy for sales, but won't do jack for long-term because fad diet trends usually die as quickly as they are born. Paleo nutters wanna eat like cavemen, with as little processed food as possible, and while Taco Bell is a lot of things good and bad, conscious purveyor of low-cal, unprocessed foods isn't one of them.
And let's inject the reals here: despite Taco Bell's lower prices, people are very willing to pay more for Chipotle, and Chipotle's menu is a gazillionty times closer to the food of the Paleolithic era than anything Taco Bell could throw together based on its current ingredients.
Give it up, Taco Bell. You simply cannot beat Chipotle at its own game.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.