Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer at Taco Bell, discusses best practices and lessons learned from the fast-food brand's shift to mobile.
Can you tell us about your background and role at Taco Bell?
After graduating with an MBA from UCLA, I began my Marketing career at General Mills where I worked on a variety of brands such as Betty Crocker, Nature Valley, Big G Cereals, and Yoplait. I then moved to Odwalla (a Coca Cola brand) and oversaw this premium juice and nutrition bar brand for 5 years. After that, I moved to Taco Bell where I initially worked in Brand Marketing and oversaw our innovation and marketing calendar, then added responsibility for creative development, then ultimately became Chief Marketing Officer in 2013.
Taco Bell has recognized for its mobile marketing efforts. Can you share some insight on your teams brand’s mobile strategy?
Our goal is to be the most relevant brand for the millennial consumer and for them to consider Taco Bell as a lifestyle brand. A key aspect in fitting the millennial lifestyle is being relevant in the mobile/digital world—the mobile app is certainly big part of that strategy. Consumers today want everything on demand. With our Mobile App, our customers now have the ability to skip the line inside, customize anything, and re-order with one click. Soon, we’ll have a unique loyalty program that will reward them for living a Live Mas lifestyle which we are also very excited about. This technology truly is a key enabler in bringing Live Mas to life!
How are you delivering the most tailored, personalized content at these touch points?
We are in the early stages of gathering and utilizing the information that is coming from the App but are excited by the possibilities of truly knowing our consumers, providing unique offers, rewarding fans in unique ways for their loyalty, and making Taco Bell a much more personalized experience.
"Our goal is to be the most relevant brand for the millennial consumer and for them to consider Taco Bell as a lifestyle brand. A key aspect in fitting the millennial lifestyle is being relevant in the mobile/digital world—the mobile app is certainly big part of that strategy. "
What challenges have you encountered in the shift to mobile?
One of the biggest challenges is changing consumer behavior and educating them about the real benefits of using the App. Often, a trip to a Taco Bell is made on impulse while a consumer is on the go. Given that we have a drive through, we are also already quite convenient. Having consumers understand the benefits and utilize the features of the app is a new challenge. Our motto with the App is that we have to Live in Beta—we are constantly learning and updating to give consumers the best experience possible and an experience that is constantly evolving to meet their wants and needs.
What’s next for your team?
We feel like we are only scratching the surface with the potential of our App. Our Mobile App is a fantastic way to be even more transparent about the quality of our food and, via customization, gives the consumer access to everything in the Taco Bell Kitchen. In addition, we have the ability to truly know our consumers on a personal level and the way they want to interact with our food and our brand. We can offer them exclusive content and offers that are tailored just for them. In short, we’ll have the ability to treat every consumer like a VIP and that will really change the game for us in terms of becoming a brand people will want to champion.
Chris Brandt - Chief Marketing Officer - Taco Bell
As the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chris Brandt leads brand marketing, media and brand sponsorships, consumer insights, brand experience, and digital marketing. During his four years with Taco Bell, Chris has overseen marketing strategy and execution and led the launch of key platforms such as Doritos Locos Tacos, Breakfast, and the Cantina Bell menu. Chris also developed an innovative, multi-year marketing calendar featuring breakthrough innovation platforms to drive sales growth both today and in the future.
Chris joined the Taco Bell team in 2010 as Senior Director for Marketing where he was responsible for the Marketing Calendar and brand innovation. Promoted to Vice President in 2012, Chris led Brand Experience and helped bring “Live Más” to life.
Prior to his roles at Taco Bell, Chris served as VP of Marketing for Odwalla, a Coca Cola brand, launching protein smoothies, new super foods and re-launching Odwalla bars. As a member of Odwalla’s Executive Team, Chris played a leading role in this health and wellness company’s strategic decisions and nationwide expansion.
Before joining Odwalla, Chris spent eight years working on a variety of brand management assignments at General Mills including Betty Crocker, Foodservice, Big G Cereals, Nature Valley Granola Bars, and Yoplait. Throughout these roles, Chris focused on brand growth, growing market share, developing effective advertising and merchandising programs and launching new product platforms.
Chris graduated with honors from UC San Diego with a BA in Economics and received his MBA with honors from the Anderson School at UCLA. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two sons.