Taco Bell sets up personalized taco gifting service ahead of holiday rush

Linda J. Dodson

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Dive Brief:

  • Taco Bell is rolling out a service on its website and app that allows customers to send people the gift of tacos year-round, according to a news release.
  • Developed with agency Deutsch LA, the Taco Gifter debuts ahead of National Taco Day on Oct. 4 and will be a permanent offering. Users select a GIF, enter their intended taco recipient’s name and write a personalized message. After checkout, they can send a link to their recipient via text, email or direct message on social platforms.
  • The first 10,000 people who try out the service will receive free tacos, and Taco Bell for a limited time will supply seasonal gift wrap on orders. The Taco Gifter is another sign that the Yum Brands chain continues to bet on outside-the-box concepts in e-commerce and loyalty.

Dive Insight:

Taco Bell is establishing an e-gifting feature ahead of the holiday rush, looking to court consumers who want to send friends and family comfort food and personalized messages as presents.

The Taco Gifter, which will become a permanent fixture, builds on the marketer’s long-running experiments to position itself as a lifestyle brand that has more to offer than traditional restaurant services — an approach that’s paid off in building a cult following of devotees, while not alienating a general audience.

Last year, Taco Bell took over a hotel in Palm Springs, California, meticulously refurbishing the location to reflect different aspects of its brand. The destination, dubbed “The Bell,” quickly booked up, and drew online attention as influencers and fans documented their stays.

The Taco Gifter reflects how Taco Bell could be recalibrating its strategy as in-person activations like The Bell are waylaid due to the coronavirus pandemic. The brand has recently run similar promotions that aim to accommodate a homebound audience. For Cinco de Mayo, it created an At Home Taco Bar that let consumers recreate their favorite menu items from the comfort of their kitchen. The meal kits were available through delivery and contactless drive-thru.

Restaurants have broadly been shifting focus to online and mobile channels to meet safety demands related to the health crisis and a growing consumer preference for takeout and delivery. Taco Bell’s e-gifting experiment follows closely on the tails of the brand’s launch of a new digital loyalty program in July that aligns with the trend. By debuting the Taco Gifter ahead of National Taco Day and the broader holiday period, the chain can drive downloads of its mobile app and sign-ups for Taco Bell Rewards.

Creating a stronger base of mobile consumers will be important for the Yum Brands marketer as it adjusts operations to focus on the channel. Starting next year, Taco Bell will introduce new store concepts that accommodate orders placed through the Taco Bell app and reward customers who follow a suggested path to pickup with more loyalty points.

Digital sales made up 30% of the total sales mix of Yum Brands restaurants in Q2, accounting for $3.5 billion. While sister brands KFC and Pizza Hut notched gains over the period ended in June, Taco Bell saw sales decline 8%. Taco Bell has recently dropped several items form its menu, such as Mexican Pizza, Nachos Supreme and Beefy Fritos Burrito, resulting in social media backlash from fans.

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