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Client – Taco Bell

Markets – US

Timing – October 2014 – Present

Agencies/Vendors – DigitasLBi, CARDFREE

Tech Word Cloud – mobile innovation, swipe-based user interface, m-commerce, location based services, orientation sensitivity

Taco Bell created a fully-integrated mobile ordering app in an effort to reach millennial customers who are glued to their smartphones.


Taco Bell is an underdog in a fiercely competitive category. The quick-serve restaurant category is dominated by one brand: McDonald’s, and one food: the hamburger. In 2012, Taco Bell was fighting to remain a top 10 QSR brand. And in the battle for relevancy, McDonald’s was outspending Taco Bell 3:1.


Mobile was the key to disruption. Across the category, competitors were fixating on mobile. As of 2013, 80% of U.S. 18- to 34-year-olds own a smartphone. Millennials represented Taco Bell’s sweet spot. To effectively engage them, Taco Bell had to reach them through the medium that mattered most: their phone. In order t catch up to the new competitors and beat old competition to the punch we needed to launch Taco Bell’s mobile-ordering app and drive adoption quickly to stay relevant and competitive.


The Taco Bell app gives users the ability to virtually assemble their orders from the bottom up, using a Tinder-like swipe based user interface. To further simplify the ordering experience, they integrated a “rotate to reorder” feature so customers can quickly reorder their favorite customized meal by simply flipping their phone and tapping a button. The app relies on the GPS to trigger Taco Bell’s point-of-sale system when the customer is within 500 feet of the restaurant so their food is always fresh. Payment is also integrated into the app, which is synced to the user’s credit or debit card. The app captures every bit of data, giving Taco Bell clear insights into consumer behavior and preferences.


The app’s patent pending “rotate to reorder” feature makes ordering simple, using the smartphone’s orientation sensitivity to create a physical shortcut for Taco Bell app users. The app is highly integrated to really take advantage of millennials’ relationships with their cellphones, capitalizing on location services, phone orientation, notification reminders, payment functionalities and more.


DigitasLBi, was responsible for all design and user experience and partnered with CARDFREE to assist with the payment function integration. Taco Bell and their agencies used the “speed to real” approach, doing the amount of work in weeks that would usually take months. In this way, they merged technology with advertising –functioning like a startup, prototyping, troubleshooting and testing along the way.


Taco Bell’s app reached the number one spot in the App Store’s food/drink category. To date, there have more than 4.7 million downloads, with 80% showing intent to purchase. It has increased average check size by 20%, and nearly 45% of users have become repeat customers. The app has gained positive media coverage, including being named as one of the 20 best ads of 2014 by Fast Company.