Sales at US Taco Bell stores open at least a year jumped 8% in the three months ending June 30. In that period, Taco Bell sold more than 20 million Mexican Pizzas across the country and saw loyalty membership grow 10%, driven largely by customers’ desire for early access to the product.
For Taco Bell, the frenzy around Mexican Pizza was important because of the attention it brought to the chain.
Taco Bell removed the beloved item — pizza sauce with ground beef or beans sandwiched between two crispy tortillas — in November 2020 when it slimmed down its menu to simplify operations during the pandemic. Mexican Pizza came back for a limited time in May, but the item quickly sold out. Some locations ran out within a week, said Gibbs.
Buzz is essential to fast food companies, which have to battle for notoriously fickle customers who don’t have much brand loyalty. Excitement around an item can inspire customers to go to, say, Taco Bell instead of to one of its competitors.
“The formula to win in any environment for us is to have a lot of brand buzz, to have product news and to have great value,” he said. Mexican Pizza, in addition to cheaper options like $2 burritos, “added up to a blowout quarter for Taco Bell.”
Other Yum brands didn’t fare as well, however. KFC’s same-store US sales fell 7% in the quarter, and Pizza Hut’s fell 4%.
— CNN Business’s Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.