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Taco Bell Marketing: How This Brand Thrives In Its Fiercely Competitive Market

Sam Thomas avatar
Sam Thomas Updated: September 01, 2023


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Taco Bell serves food to more than 2 billion customers in its 7,000 restaurants worldwide per year. However, the fast-food chain has become more known than its appetizing selection of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, and continues to prove itself to be the world leader in the marketing of social media.

The Texan-Mexican fast-food chain has become prominent on every social media platform, creating a unique social media presence that is unparalleled by its competition. While Fast Food Kingpin, McDonald’s, may boast about its bigger customer base, Taco Bell has managed to be at the forefront in terms of engagement and brand attention that their social media activity receives.

Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Making use of all available social media platforms is one thing, but Taco Bell has lifted the veil that separates most major companies from their customers by engaging them in a more personal and fun way.

So how did Taco Bell manage to cement their reputation as the big influential player of marketing, especially on social media? The following factors of Taco Bell’s marketing strategy present how they have managed to outperform their competition and how your company’s strategy can learn. Let’s jump right in the details!

Taco Bell’s Marketing Strategies: What You Can Learn From The Fast Food Giant

Taco Bell is willing to reinvent themselves

Taco Bell’s old and new logos
Taco Bell’s old and new logos

Taco Bell dares to change its branding approach to seek something different continually. As the world evolves with new trends in graphic design, changing societal rules, and advanced technology, their company logo needs to evolve to reflect those changes. It wouldn’t make much sense to use the same logo they used in their humble beginnings, not when so much has changed for the fast-food juggernaut.

Taco Bell knows who they are as a brand

We, as humans, love genuineness. Staying true to who you are as a human and being genuine brings about more friends, doesn’t it? The same definition refers to brands. Taco Bell is a fast-food Mexican restaurant, not a Michelin-rated three-star restaurant, so they acknowledged that.

While other restaurants may downplay the fact that they offer a drive-thru, Taco Bell stands proudly behind that fact with a sense of humor and a late-night menu. We all sure know where to go at 3 a.m. after celebrating the birthday of our friend.

Their food may seem unhealthful, and their stomachs turn, but sometimes that’s exactly what we want. Something crunchy, affordable, fast. Taco Bell knows that they’re catering to people with a few bucks in their pockets and munchies. That is why they get inventive with their menu, offering items like Black Jack Taco, Kit Kat Quesadilla, and Beefy Fritos Burrito.

Yet they never wander too far from their origins, making sure they still market old-fashioned classics like tacos, nachos, burritos, and quesadillas. They did not forget the staples that made them famous in the first place.

Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Taco Bell knows their target audience

Many restaurants may have assumed that only primary and middle-aged residents eat Doritos, but not Taco Bell. I know you ‘re never too old to love this dessert, so if they can replicate it and make it part of the main course of the day, that’s even better!

Taco is conscious that their target demographic is all of those between the ages of 18 and 34 who know that we enjoy a taco or two or three healthy from time to time. Keeping up with the trend, Taco Bell knows how important it is to keep healthy, vegan choices on their menu.

You’ll notice that their ads often feature young people in the crowd, enjoying their meals in the parking lot while the sky is dark and starry. They’ve branched out of this mold, of course, which is why their name is hurried and self-aware. During the Super Bowl XLVII, they introduced a commercial with a bunch of rowdy, elderly folk having a party while they ate their Taco Supremes.

Taco Bell focuses on social media

Taco Bell’s Instagram
Taco Bell’s Instagram

Some brands beg to have their pages liked, but still don’t get it because they can’t say anything interesting. This makes them a nuisance to social media. It may be that they post too much, or their posts are too salesy, or that the two are a bad mix. Taco Bell figured out how to speak directly to their audience, more like a personal friend than a business.

They ‘re not groundbreaking, but down to earth and comical. When people are on these social sites, they use them to connect, whether it’s with friends, family, a high school ex, or a company.

People like to communicate with people, not an emotionless company. Don’t try to be the best friend of your customer, just be genuine. Take Taco Bell’s Twitter feed, for instance, which shows that, as a company, you can promote your true self and people won’t unfollow you:

Taco Bell on Twitter
Taco Bell on Twitter

Taco Bell embraces its personality

A quick browse through Taco Bell’s Instagram page or Twitter feed shows that it’s clear whom they’re targeting. Fast food companies have defined their youth-based demographics and have found a way to appeal to them through a witty and unapologetically sardonic sense of humor.

The company understands that to establish a relationship with its audience, more human-centered marketing approaches must be channeled. Most businesses are seeking to target young people, but they struggle because they are unable to communicate with the market. The younger generation will also be more informed when it comes to social media and will quickly root out inauthenticity.

There is no doubt that this marketing strategy is effective for a fast-food brand. Many of Taco Bell’s social media posts have managed to go viral, which has resulted in multiple media outlets doing stories about the company’s social media movements and, in turn, ending up doing a marketing portion for them.

Taco Bell engages thoughtfully with customers in real-time

Taco Bell engaging with its customers
Taco Bell engaging with its customers

Anyone who has engaged with a large brand through a social media platform knows that most of the answers could have come from robots. The lack of personality on social media and the flood of product promotions will not inspire a plethora of customers to hit the following button.

Taco Bell has found a way to connect with their audiences by engaging them in real-time. It’s a simple yet time-consuming strategy, but one that has proven to be followed by Taco Bell’s social media growth.

Sending the customer messaging out there is important, but listening to them is something that Taco Bell knows and thrives on. The main difference in strategy now is that what Taco is doing in social media today is real-time, and they are listening and engaging all the time.

By listening and engaging, Taco Bell doesn’t just tap a like button or copy and paste a blurb but responds in a humanistic way that is laced with enough playfulness to warrant a share from the recipient instantly. They have also adopted a content strategy that goes beyond what Taco Bell has created internally.

Part of Taco Bell ‘s content strategy involves influencer marketing. It connects with influencers or other brands that are not necessarily related to the brand but have amassed large fan bases on their own merit. Fast food companies have found a way to benefit fans of their brand while promoting their products.

The company has achieved this by sending influencers to their products prior to its official release. Another way Taco Bell has managed to get their brand out is by infiltrating trends in an organic way. The business has helped to make several tweets viral by hopping on popular hashtags and patterns that are common at the moment.

For eg, when “#10ThingsIGetAlot” was on the bandwagon, Taco Bell tweeted, “Do you sell bells? “Next to the hashtag. The tweet attracted a great deal of interest and succeeded as it was both amusing and a little self-depreciative, which further establishes a personality behind the brand.

Taco Bell, with that in mind, had the brilliant idea of sending hand-written notes and wearable brand items to models, actresses, musicians, and other celebrities popular with young people.

Taco Bell is willing to take calculated risks

A Taco Bell restaurant
A Taco Bell restaurant

Every company wants to achieve a sense of virality with its social media strategy, but very few are willing to step outside the safe zone as Taco Bell is. Not only does the team behind the Texan-Mexican fast-food giant take risks with their posts, but they also post where most marketers are known to fail.

For instance, the Reddit community will shut down anyone who tries to sell on the platform, but Taco Bell has managed to enter unscathed. One of Taco Bell’s most popular social media promotions was their new smartphone ordering app. Rather than doing the odd commercial post daily to suck up their fans’ attention, Taco Bell gave them no alternative.

Essentially, the company blacked out all of its social media accounts and left only one sentence to support the app. In just 24 hours after the launch of this campaign, the Taco Bell app became one of Apple’s most popular “food and drink” apps. Not only did the company not risk losing their promotion to the rest of their social media activities, but it also made sure that their followers were the first to know.

Another way Taco Bell made their engagement grow was with the use of emojis. The brand realized that there was no taco emoji and began a petition to get one that worked after they managed to receive more than 33,000 signatures.

They followed this engagement booster by inventing the ‘Taco Emoji Engine’, which celebrated the taco emoji entering the texting game and prompted followers to tweet to them for a unique response. Over half a million direct tweets were received from the company’s official Twitter page in the first five days of the launch of the ‘Taco Emoji Engine’.

Taco Bell’s social media approach may benefit from their team’s creative creativity, but there’s a lot to learn from the road to success they’ve made. Creating a brand personality that strives to be soft corporate, engage customers in real-time, and take creative risks are all steps that can be incorporated into any social media strategy to ensure that it excels.

Further readings

Final Words

Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Taco Bell is surely not a perfect brand, but they seem to master it when it comes to understanding their customers. They are willing to reinvent themselves, know who they are as a company, understand their target market, and stay on social media. For every brand out there who is struggling with their marketing efforts, they can certainly go to Taco Bell and use some of its “special marketing sauce”.

I hope this article has provided you with valuable information about Taco Bell’s marketing strategy. Please feel free to leave a comment for further discussion. :-)

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