Product quality is a key ingredient for marketing success. When customers judge you as having high quality products or services they are more likely to buy, pay more than comparable offerings, and tell others about their experiences with your brand. The benefits of being positioned high quality are clear; how to successfully arrive at that place is more elusive.
Brands that aspire to ratchet up their quality associations should look to Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell for inspiration. Taco Bell has competed effectively in the quick-service restaurant category by being positioned as a low-priced brand. The tradeoff for being perceived as low priced is that quality perceptions are lower. After all, is it realistic that we can get high quality and pay low prices?
Fortunately, brand associations are not permanent; they can be reshaped and image redefined. Taco Bell has used a new product line to shift quality perceptions. Its Cantina Bell menu, created by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia, touts premium ingredients and creative recipes that make for high quality products. The positioning for the Cantina Bell menu is a distinctively upscale move for Taco Bell.
Although the new product line launch occurred less than three months ago, the impact Cantina Bell has had on Taco Bell’s brand image is significant. The YouGov BrandIndex, which measures consumer quality perceptions daily and tracks over time, reveals that Taco Bell’s efforts to enhance menu quality has paid off in more positive quality perceptions. Noteworthy gains made by Taco Bell since launching Cantina Bell menu include:
- Positive movement in brand quality score from 14.4 to a high of 25.9 in late September
- Closed a six-point gap with industry average; Taco Bell’s score now at or slightly above industry score
Quality scores are influenced by two factors, observed an executive with YouGov:
- Communication – Advertising influenced perceptions
- In-store Experience – Confirms perceptions when quality expectations are met
These two factors remind me of one of my favorite sayings about products and marketing: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.” The lipstick is the brand communications, messaging used to shift brand perceptions. Message content has to be real (i.e., quality must actually be improved) and relevant (claims made matter to customers).
Taco Bell has discovered a powerful ingredient that has the potential to attract customers and reposition its brand as a quality offering in its industry. Your brand’s quality is not a permanent condition. If you want to improve it, consider adding ingredients needed to enhance the quality recipe.