Taco Bell aspires to overtake Apple, Chipotle, and Nike in one key area

Taco bellChris McGrath/GettyDiners enjoy their meals inside the new Taco Bell store during the official opening on April 21, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

Taco Bell has one goal: to win the hearts of millennials.

“Taco Bell’s goal is to be America’s favourite millennial brand, and we are making substantial strides to deliver on that aspiration,” CEO Greg Creed told analysts in a conference call last year.

In recent years, the fast food company has been working hard to shake its “Taco Hell” image of selling cheap, unsafe food.

Traditional millennial favourites like Apple, Chipotle, and Nike have a more luxurious image than the fast-food chain.

Still, Taco Bell seems to be thriving.

Sales increased 4% in the most recent quarter, outpacing the rest of the industry. There are indications Taco Bell is benefiting from Chipotle’s brush with E. coli, which caused sales to plummet 36% in January.

The company has made progress with 18 to 35-year-olds with bestselling menu items like the Doritos Locos Taco and the breakfast Waffle Taco.

It’s also pledged to start selling cage-free eggs, a key measure in the era of food transparency.

Taco Bell also has another advantage over other millennial favourites: it’s cheap.

People in their 20s and 30s say they favour fast-casual joints like Chipotle, Five Guys, and Panera Bread. They claim they care about things like food quality, customisation, and ethics.

“Increasingly, younger diners are seeking out fresher, healthier food and chains that offer customisable menu options for little more than the price of a combo meal,” The Wall Street Journal reported recently.

But a recent report by Morgan Stanley reveals the difference between what millennials say and what they do.

McDonald’s is still the most visited restaurant for the demographic thanks to its value menu, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley. Taco Bell comes in 3rd place while Chipotle comes in 11th.

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