- On Monday, Taco Bell’s former CEO officially took over as Chipotle‘s top executive.
- While both Taco Bell and Chipotle serve burritos, the chains are extremely different.
- The new CEO could bring changes such as new menu items, breakfast burritos, more advertising, and boozy drinks to Chipotle.
Chipotle’s new CEO is coming from a very different type of Mexican-food chain: the fast-food icon Taco Bell.
On Monday, ex-Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol officially stepped into his new role as the struggling chain’s top executive. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol’s leadership, as the CEO pushed for creative marketing and wild new menu items, such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
While both Taco Bell and Chipotle serve tacos and burritos, the two chains’ reputations and strategies are extremely different. Chipotle needs a change, however, as it has struggled to win back customers following an E. coli crisis more than two years ago.
Niccol will bring a very different perspective from his time at Taco Bell — and that’s expected to affect how Chipotle runs its business. Here are the changes customers can expect with Niccol in control of Chipotle.
New menu items — including nachos
Bringing on Niccol almost guarantees that the chain will start trying to add items to the menu. While Chipotle has long attempted to keep its menu simple, Taco Bell has found success by constantly rolling out new limited-time offerings, such as nacho fries and the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
New, cheaper Mexican-inspired food on the menu
One of the biggest differences between Taco Bell and Chipotle is that Taco Bell is more reliant on budget shoppers while Chipotle can charge more for more premium products.
But when customers aren’t willing to pay, Chipotle needs to make changes.
The chain boosted traffic with several giveaway deals in 2016, but the promotions didn’t result in the long-term growth that Chipotle was looking for.
Taco Bell has found success in building out its $1 menu. The items aren’t part of a promotion and don’t cost the fast-food chain much, but they are able to bring in customers who don’t want to spend much money. With Chipotle’s push for new menu items, some less expensive options are likely to join the menu.
This may be a long shot, but there’s reason to believe that Niccol could bring breakfast to Chipotle.
Niccol was president of Taco Bell in 2014 when the chain rolled out breakfast nationally for the first time.
“When we look at the category, we haven’t seen much besides me-too offerings,” Niccol told Ad Age at the time. “We want to create something that isn’t round and requires a bun … The big innovation in the last decade is an egg white, but I think the consumer wants more and we can give them more.”
The Mizuho analyst Jeremy Scott said in a note to investors in February that Niccol’s experience with “daypart strategies” could bring a fresh perspective to Chipotle.