LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Taco Bell wants to become destination for snack-starved younger people, not just a place to get burritos for lunch or dinner, according to an Associated Press report.
The Mexican-style chain plans to announce this week an expansion of its sweet treats menu, with the addition of churros and cookie sandwiches to its current lineup of cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas, the report said. And in coming weeks, it will beef up its offering of savory snacks with the introduction of its "loaded grillers," which are nachos, chicken or loaded baked potato wrapped in a tortilla.
And early next year, Taco Bell plans to launch a "Happier Hour" TV ad campaign touting its snack offerings, said the news agency.
The move follows a broader trend in the fast-food industry, with companies trying to find new ways to attract customers at all hours of the day. Attracting customers to restaurants during between-meal hours has become a critical way to drive sales, because chains have to pay for fixed costs such as electricity and labor anyway.
The strategy is particularly relevant for Taco Bell, because its younger customer base tends to snack around the clock, said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer.
"They are on a timeless eating schedule," he told AP.
For now, Niccol said customers are ordering the cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas more as desserts to go with meals. But by early next year, Niccol said the sweet treats will be marketed as snacks for any time of day, perhaps to go along with one of its specialty drinks.
Taco Bell is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.