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Taco Bell Continuing To 'Think Outside The Bun' With Its New Quesarito

LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2014 () – I’ll say this for Taco Bell: It doesn’t hesitate to swing for the fences.

The fast-food chain that has battled Chipotle and McDonald’s for market share with items like Doritos Locos Tacos is aiming to make yet another major impact with the nationwide launch of the Quesarito, a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla.

On some levels, this is another direct attack against Chipotle, which offers a similar item as part of its “secret menu” but for a much higher price. But on a bigger scale, this represents Taco Bell’s strategy in recent months, which is to offer items not seen anywhere else in the fast food category to both garner widespread media attention and to try and take market share away from its competitors.

Just look at its history:

• In June 2012, Taco Bell announced it would be testing a new "Cantina Menu" with upscale items in its Kentucky and California restaurants. The new menu, created by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia, featured black beans, cilantro rice, citrus and herb marinated chicken and cilantro dressing, and was a direct attempt to grab back market share from Chipotle, which has long served similar items.

• That same year, Taco Bell made arguably its biggest splash ever with its Doritos Locos Taco, featuring a taco shell made from Nacho Cheese Doritos chips. The launch was followed by several other variations of the taco, and to date the company has sold more than 825 million of these tacos.

• Last March, Taco Bell decided to expand its breakfast menu across the U.S., featuring such rarely (if ever) seen fast-food products as the Waffle Taco. At the same time, the company launched a full-scale advertising assault against McDonald’s in a battle over the Golden Arches’ 30% breakfast market share.

And now we have the permanent menu addition of the Quesarito, another never-before-seen-in-fast-food concoction that, according to Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt, is Taco Bell's best-selling menu item in a test market since the Doritos Locos Tacos were tested.

Priced between $1.99 and $2.99, the Quesarito costs much less than Chipotle’s secret menu version (between $6.65 and $11) and is further proof that Taco Bell is continuing to “think outside the bun” (its former slogan) to increase its sales and market share.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. Email him here or follow him on Twitter here.

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