- Taco Bell is introducing a new line of tortilla chips to grocery and convenience stores nationwide beginning in May, according to the restaurant chain.
- The chip line includes three flavors – Fire (flavored with jalapeno, chili peppers and paprika), Mild (flavored with three chili peppers and cumin) and Classic (salted). The packaging is inspired by Taco Bell’s popular sauce packets and includes its signature witticisms.
- This isn’t the first time Taco Bell has extended its brand to grocery store shelves. The company partnered with Kraft in 1996 and has since introduced dips, sauces, shells and meal kits to retail. In 2014, Taco Bell bottled its Mtn Dew Baja Blast and brought it to the retail sector.
The marriage of quick-service restaurant products and retail has long been a staple of the grocery store aisle. With the launch, Taco Bell is doing its best to stand out in the crowded chip aisle. The launch also could be beneficial to supermarkets, too. If the chips are exclusive to retail stores and not sold online, they could give grocers another advantage over e-commerce competitors, albeit a small one.
A majority of consumers will notice the chips. According to Nielsen, 98% of U.S. households purchased snacks during the last year. The heavily branded bags will attract impulse buys from the tens of millions of Taco Bell fans who are grocery shopping. They may even spark purchases from curious shoppers who may not be fans of the restaurant, but are interested in trying the product.
Restaurants have been extending their brands into the grocery space for good reason. The Starbucks/PepsiCo partnership’s ready-to-drink coffee experiment that began in 1994 has since grown into a $2 billion retail business. And just this week, Panera Bread announced that its retail sales for refrigerated soups exceeded $100 million in 2017, making it the first brand in the category to surpass that milestone in annual sales. Other restaurant brands now found in the grocery store include Arby's French fires, California Pizza Kitchen pizzas, PF Chang's frozen meals and Bob Evans' mashed potatoes and biscuits.
The Taco Bell product line extension is not just a win for the company, but also for retailers. They not only further diversify grocery and convenience stores shelves, but they add products with trendy flavors such as paprika and cumin that attract millennials and other consumers. In addition, the chips are products that work well for the on-the-go consumer who can grab a bag after filling up at the gas station.
Perhaps most importantly, these products have strong brand equity. In a retail space filled with a growing number of choices, shoppers may be more likely to gravitate to brands they’re familiar with. As grocers look for any advantage they can get, expect more restaurant brands to infiltrate the supermarket shelf.