Taco Bell is ‘America’s favorite Mexican restaurant’

By Melody Hahm | Yahoo Finance

Taco Bell is America’s favorite “Mexican restaurant,” according to a new survey.

The fast-food chain beat out Chipotle (CMG) and Moe’s Southwest Grill to win “Brand of the Year” for the first time since Harris launched its EquiTrend Study 30 years ago.

The Harris Poll EquiTrend Study measures the overall health of a brand by asking consumers questions based on three variables — familiarity, quality and future consideration. The results are aggregated into a one-number score.

This year, Taco Bell (YUM) surpassed Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill, the latter of which was the Brand of the Year in 2016 and 2017. Prior to that, Chipotle ranked as the No. 1 Mexican restaurant brand, but its standing was severely impacted by various outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. The fast casual and health-conscious chain experienced a 10.7 point drop in 2016 because of the negative sentiment surrounding the brand. Other choices included Qdoba, Baja Fresh and Del Taco.

Taco Bell has gained traction with innovative product offerings, by serving breakfast and creative selections like Mexican Crispy Chicken Pizza and the Naked Egg Taco. The brand rolled out limited edition Nacho Fries earlier this year, which was the most successful product launch in Taco Bell’s history.

“Taco Bell’s marketing is ubiquitous so it wasn’t surprising to me that they came out on top this year. It’s not so much that Moe’s or Chipotle are falling off the map. Taco Bell has just been a stronger brand as of late, as demonstrated by the strong familiarity and consideration marks,” said Amir Kanpurwala, the director of the survey.

The 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study is based on a sample of 77,031 U.S. consumers at least 15 years old surveyed online, in English, this year from January 3 to February 15.

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