Social media and customizability How Taco Bell wins with millennials

Jessica Perry//December 16, 2014

Social media and customizability How Taco Bell wins with millennials

Jessica Perry//December 16, 2014

Fun fact: Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken? They’re all a part of the same company.

Their parent company is Yum! Brands, which used to be a subsidiary of Pepsi Co.

Have you ever noticed how you can’t get a coke at any of these restaurants? Or, more importantly, how the sweet nectar that is Mountain Dew’s Baha Blast, a Pepsi brand, is only available at Taco Bell?

And that comes from someone who has sworn off soda. Except, of course, Baha Blast.

So, where am I going with this? Yum Brands is a company that, by design, has completely tackled the classic tactic of brand-synergy. But they’re finding out that’s not the only thing that matters anymore.

As for their trifecta of cornerstone brands, one shines above the rest: Taco Bell.

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“We were on fleek with breakfast, with our social engagement, with mobile ordering,” Yum! CEO Brian Niccol said at the company’s investor conference this week.

I’d like to point out Niccol’s use of “on fleek,” a twitter-ism for “on point,” because Taco Bell’s engagement with millennials, particularly on twitter, is what’s truly setting the brand apart from KFC and Pizza Hut. The company has even started a campaign aimed at getting someone to develop a taco Emoji, complete with it’s own hashtag: #tacoemoji. And for the one’s out there who don’t know what an Emoji is, it’s a digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion, etc.

And people are noticing.

There’s even a petition — actually three different petitions — on Change.org, where people have created other petitions for causes that include lifting the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia and demanding accountability for the choking death of Eric Garner. So, you know, pick your battles.

But Taco Bell’s millennial prowess doesn’t end with social media. The brand even launched its own mobile app this year that both allows patrons to order from their phone, but also increases customizability.

That last word there, customizability, is the big key to millennials. And that’s twice as true when it comes to food.

With gluten free and vegan or vegetarian diets growing in popularity, having a menu with the ability to be customized to fit these needs is crucial.

“You can eat at Taco Bell as a vegan?” is something I’ve heard several times.

Sure. There are bean burritos and several vegetarian options you can order without the cheese or sour cream. Or, look at this doozy of a customized order than even has its own meme:

(I will not write any more blogs before lunch, I will not write any more blogs before lunch…)

This isn’t some paid advertisement for Taco Bell, either. Empirically speaking, I hate fast food and avoid it whenever possible. It’s another preference I share with my fellow millennials. Still, when I’m working late or in a pinch between meetings, there are moments of desperation. This customizability — and my ability to stay within my diet — helps edge out the competition.

And it’s what makes the company’s success with millennials worth paying attention to.


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