Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos Breaks Sales Record

IRVINE, Calif. -- Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco, launched March 8, is now the most successful product launch in the chain's history. The company stated that it has sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos in 10 weeks, according to an Orange County Register report.

The new taco sells for $1.29 and combines seasoned beef, lettuce and tomatoes with a nacho cheese-flavored, Doritos-branded "taco jacket." Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed labeled it a "flavor pairing just waiting to happen."

Previously, the chain's most successful product launch was the Crunchwrap Supreme, which debuted in 2005 and was so popular it became a permanent menu item in Jan. 2006. Company spokesman Rob Poetsch said the Crunchwrap "has been dethroned" by the Doritos Locos Taco. More Doritos-flavored shells will be added, including a Cool Ranch version.

To highlight the success of Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell noted that McDonald's sold its first 100 million hamburgers in 1958, 18 years after the first McDonald's burger stand opened, and three years after Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's franchise.

The debut of the Doritos Locos Taco also helped lift Taco Bell's overall sales; in April, the company reported a six-percent lift in same-store sales during the first quarter of the year.

Adding variations of the Doritos Locos Taco isn't the only menu change the company has in store. Early next month, Taco Bell will roll out a menu addition created by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia, reported the Associated Press. The Cantina Burrito Bowl and Cantina Burrito feature items such as black beans, cilantro rice, citrus- and herb-marinated chicken and cilantro dressing, and will sell for nearly $5 each. A vegetarian option will also be available, along with side dishes such as chips and pico de gallo, chips and guacamole and black beans and rice.

The new additions are "gourmet Mexican" according to Brian Niccol Taco Bell's chief marketing and innovation officer, and are part of the chain's efforts to appeal to consumers increasingly looking for more than a quick bite on the go. The new items place Taco Bell in greater competition with casual dining-chains Qdoba and Chipotle Mexican Grill, which are known for higher quality ingredients, according to the report. Its goal is to give regular customers more choice and lure new business, said Niccol.

Nicol stated that Garcia, who will appear on this summer's "Top Chef Masters" show, is the driving force behind the Cantina Bell menu, which the company expects to expand. "She brought a lot of new thinking, a lot of fresh approaches to our ingredients that change the flavor profile of the brand," said Niccol. Taco Bell expects to invest more than $20 million in TV and digital marketing over the first month or so of the menu rollout.

The changes are all part of Taco Bell's aggressive growth strategy for 2012, as CSNews Online previously reported. The company also launched its "First Meal" breakfast platform at 750 locations in 10 states in January.

Some consumers will be skeptical of Taco Bell's increased focus on quality, acknowledged Niccol, but to combat this, the company is publicizing a long-established policy to refund customers or offer a replacement if they dislike the new dishes.

"Our experience has been when they try it, nobody's returning them," said Niccol.