Taco Bell is trying to hold onto its perception as the destination for the cheap fast food by taking its $1 Cravings Menu national.
The company began testing the dollar menu last year when it was trying to find a way to replace its then-current value menu called "Why Pay More." That menu included items originally priced at 79 cents, 89 cents and 99 cents, though those prices increased to well north of a dollar over time. (A spokeswoman for the company said a few of those items will appear on the $1 Cravings menu.) There were also $2 meal deals on the "Why Pay More" menu, and last year the company said those meals would likely "evolve."
The national menu, which launches Aug. 18, will include 11 items, including Beefy Fritos Burrito, Beefy Mini Quesadilla, Spicy Potato Soft Taco and a Caramel Apple Empanada. Marketing for the menu will launch Aug. 21 and will be led by Interpublic's Deutsch, its lead creative agency.
Taco Bell has had an active year. On top of launching breakfast in late March -- its biggest menu roll out ever -- the company named its chief marketer, Brian Niccol, as CEO in May. Last month it announced a roll out of its Cantina Power menu, which is essentially a mashup of its gourmet-positioned Cantina menu and its Power Protein menu, which it tested last year.
The chain brings the new value menu national as competitors like McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's have been heavily promoting value menus since early 2013. Wendy's last year overhauled its value menu, naming it "Right Price, Right Size," which includes items that range between 99 cents and $1.99. McDonald's has been pushing its dollar menu since late 2012, and Burger King is on an extended kick promoting its two-sandwiches-for-$5 deal.
Taco Bell's second-quarter same-store U.S. sales increased 2% from a year earlier. Parent company Yum Brands CEO David Novak said that despite the successful breakfast launch that quarter, the results disappointed in part because the latest Doritos Locos Taco -- Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos -- didn't sell as well as expected.