Live Más is taking over. Taco Bell is now the fourth-largest fast food chain in the United States, moving up past Burger King. McDonald's, Starbucks, and Subway maintained their respective first, second, and third spots on the list. The fast food competition is hotter than ever and restaurant chains are stepping up to offer new food, new experiences, and new prices.
Based on sales last year, some fast food restaurants have been successful at making some changes to attract new customers. According to Bloomberg, Taco Bell was able to increase sales by 5 percent in the U.S. to about $9.8 billion in 2017 by introducing unusual new items like fried chicken taco shells and $1 nacho fries.
McDonald's reversed their downward trend of the last few years by focusing on improving classic menu items, offering an expanded menu of coffee drinks, and launching a new value menu in early 2018. Domestic sales for Burger King rose only 1.5 percent in 2017, not enough to keep pace with the three biggest fast food chains, per Bloomberg.
Burger chains like McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's have also faced competition from other restaurant chains. Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, all part of the Yum! brand, offer popular alternatives to burgers. Plus, there are more upscale burger chains like Shake Shack opening, and regional chains like Sonic Drive-In and Five Guys are expanding across America.
Fast food chains like Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks offering breakfast have also expanded their menu to include all-day items. And other quick service restaurants like Panera Bread are focusing on "clean" eating, cutting out artificial additives and ingredients.
Marketing campaigns have been a large part of the top chains' growth as well. Taco Bell has made connecting with their fans part of their core mission with projects like the Live Más Scholarship, buying tickets for students to the College Football Playoffs, and highlighting new music bands.
The fast food chain is even offering weddings at their flagship restaurant in Las Vegas for fans who love their Taco Bell as much as they love each other.