Taco Bell Targets Dieters – and Women

Fast food companies are not exactly known for serving healthy food. But over the past several years, more and more have been slowly moving towards lighter menu items as consumers are starting to look for healthier alternatives. But not until Subway’s highly successful Jared Fogle campaign has a fast food brand built an entire menu around the idea of weight loss.

Enter Taco Bell’s new “Drive-Thru Diet,” a new menu that consists of 7 items under 9 grams of fat. Creating a sub brand with its own menu is a smart choice for Taco Bell. Instead of trying to reposition the entire brand in a “healthier” direction (which would be a nearly impossible task), the Drive-Thru Diet sub brand allows them to make no apologies for their regular fat and calorie-filled food – and even eliminate the new menu altogether in the future if it doesn’t catch on.

Like Subway, Taco Bell is using a spokesperson to communicate the weight loss story – this time it’s a woman named Christine who supposedly lost 54 lbs by including items from the menu in her low calorie diet. In addition to choosing a “real” woman to represent the brand and appeal to other women, Taco Bell also seems to understand the modern woman’s need for simplicity. This is communicated with a streamlined menu, simple to navigate and succinct website, and tagline “Eating Better Just Got Easier.” They also seem to understand the way women communicate by word of mouth – the personable, real-life testimonial of Christine seems to be attempting to appeal to this connection. Weight management companies such as Jenny Craig and Nutri-System have used this technique for years, more recently turning to celebrities to get on their programs and them pitch their results.

Whether consumers buy it or not, this trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. We’ll see if Taco Bell can join some of the other fast food brands that have had success in expanding their brands and menus to the health conscious consumer – and if other brands continue to jump on board.