Taco Bell Corp. is competing with McDonald's at its own game -- the $1 menu.
The Mexican food chain, based in Irvine, launched its new Dollar Cravings menu Monday, featuring 11 items to lure young, deal-seeking diners to its drive-throughs.
Targeting millennials, who have scaled back visits to quick-service restaurants in the past few years, the taco chain teased the new menu Friday on the mobile application Snapchat. The company said millennials drive 50% of the chain's transactions.
Kevin Burke, a restaurant industry analyst at Trinity Capital, said Taco Bell is "at forefront of social media" and has had success gearing its products and pricing to young, thrifty consumers.
Taco Bell, owned by Yum Brands Inc., tested the dollar menu last year after McDonald's began offering a Dollar Menu & More, and Wendy's unveiled its Right Price Right Size menu with items from 99 cents to $1.99.
Taco Bell's dollar menu features spicy tostadas, triple layer nachos and shredded chicken quesadillas, as well as sweet items like cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas.
Known for its recession-friendly 79-cent tacos, Taco Bell has been tinkering with its menu to attract new customers. It started a breakfast menu in March, and last month launched a protein-heavy menu to cater to healthy eaters.
Last week the company opened its first fast-casual taco concept, U.S. Taco Co., in Huntington Beach to expand outside the fast-food market and compete with Chipotle.
"They have the ability to reach a number of customers at different price points with quality items where burger chains can't," Burke said.
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