Taco Bell Sees Quality Rise With Cantina

October 03, 2012, 4:04 PM GMT+0

Seemingly stealing a page from the Chipotle playbook, US food chain Taco Bell has done wonders for its quality perception with its new premium-ingredient Cantina menu.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily consumer perception research service of brands, Taco Bell has seen its quality perception soar all summer long since debuting its upscale Cantina menu in early July under the auspices of chef Lorena Garcia. The chain’s quality perception score has moved close to Chipotle’s levels since Labor Day and is staying there. Taco Bell’s perception success with Mexican food eaters has allowed it to keep pace with, and even rise above, the top national quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains’ average.

Because of its apparent success, Taco Bell recently announced it was adding new items to the Cantina menu, including a new quesadilla in November and a steak dish in January.

Taco Bell and the top national QSR sector were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Quality score, determined from asking respondents, "Does this brand represent high quality or low quality?" The top national QSR sector average includes such brands as Pizza Hut, Arby's, Papa John's, Domino's, KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, and Long John Silver's. Results were filtered for adults 18+ who dined at a Mexican restaurant over the past month. BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

When the Cantina menu was introduced in early July, Taco Bell’s quality score with Mexican food eaters sat at 14, while Chipotle was more than twice that score at 32 and the top national QSR sector was several points ahead at 21.

Fast forward to October 1st: Taco Bell’s quality score is now 25, even with the top national QSR sector, while Chipotle is only a few points higher at 28.

YouGov BrandIndex (www.brandindex.com) interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1.5MM individuals.