When it comes down to it, Taco Bell is excellent at marketing to their audience and unafraid to take creative risks. They’ve built a really interesting brand around experimentation that’s helped the fast food giant take full advantage of the new capabilities offered by omnichannel, namely:
- Their strong social media presence
- Willingness to engage with other brands
- Their new app-based delivery service
These are opportunities and niches that wouldn’t have existed even five years ago. This company’s evolving right before our eyes and paving the way for large restaurant chains to migrate into the age of omnichannel. Here’s how they’re doing it:
1. Taco Bell’s social media presence is next level.
Taco Bell currently has one of the strongest corporate social media presences out there. The most famous example is probably their Twitter, which features A++ material that greatly appeals to their target audience and promotes sharing.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 21, 2015
They’re also really active on even newer social networks like Snapchat, Instagram, and Tumblr. Worth noting is that their marketing efforts on each platform is tailored to that specific audience: their Instagram looks very clean and ‘hipster,’ whereas their excellent Tumblr page is a curated collection of brightly animated .gifs with a sort of #vaporwave aesthetic. These are subtle distinctions, but add a layer of authenticity that is crucial for engaging younger audiences through their chosen media. You get the feeling that the designers, digital artists, and social media strategists behind these campaigns are passionate about their work and keep fingers on the pulse of social media.
2. How to market an app
Last year, Taco Bell used a complete social media blackout to promote the release of their food ordering app. For a few days, about 1 million Facebook and 1.4 million Twitter followers were told that they could engage with the brand through their app. It was kind of a poetic move, highlighting the irony that one of the most powerful ways to communicate in the digital age is to not communicate… But they didn’t stop there.
The latest T-Bell app innovation is their partnership with a service called DoorDash, a company that is basically looking to become the Uber of food delivery.
— DoorDash (@doordash) July 8, 2015
This new industry of app-services is a really progressive way to engage underemployed millennial users with not much capital besides a smart phone and a data plan – something that we’ll see grow as a service industry because of its personal flexibility. We’ve already seen this in crowded, tech-savvy cities like San Francisco, where there are delivery services for everything and the currency of the rich is time.
3. Taco Bell cooperates with other brands
Throughout its history Taco Bell has demonstrated a willingness to play nice with other brands to increase both parties’ exposure.. This started in the ’90s when combination Taco Bell/Pizza Hut and Taco Bell/KFC restaurants were opened, and continued in the early-2000s when they partnered up with Mountain Dew to become the exclusive seller of Baja Blast-flavored soda. This is a good, mutually beneficial move for both parties and it’s nice to see a level of sportsmanship in marketing.
Lately, Taco Bell’s creative and kind of ironic brand has become a platform for other food brands like Cap’n Crunch and Doritos to experiment with releasing fast food products. After the success of Doritos Locos Tacos (a crunchy taco made out of a Dorito shell), Frito Lay struck a deal with Burger King to distribute additional-themed fast food items. This is philosophically an excellent idea where you help your own brand by creating value for others, a theme that the nature of the information age has helped foster over the years.
Between their fantastic social media presence, apps which add value to customers, and their forward-thinking marketing strategies, Taco Bell has become one of the fast food companies that have most successfully capitalized on the possibilities of omnichannel. Lessons can be learned from them that will carry over to any industry.