Taco Bell (NYSE:YUM) is getting rid of its kids' meals because they're not sufficiently edgy and millennial, CEO Greg Creed told the Huffington Post.
The Yum Brands subsidiary said the child-portion meals and toys were bringing in less than 1 percent of the chain's revenue, and they'll be gone from all the chain's stores by January. Taco Bell claims it is the first national fast-food chain to dump its kids' meals, which were first launched by the defunct Burger Chef chain in 1973. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) introduced its Happy Meal in 1978, and since then the toy-plus-food-box has been a QSR staple.
Kids' meals have been falling from favor in recent years amid concerns over child obesity, but that wasn't an issue for Taco Bell, which is targeting men in their 20s and 30s with its marketing. But in an apparent effort not to sound hostile toward families, Creed said the move might "empower" parents: "Now parents get to discuss with their children what they'd like to eat when they visit a Taco Bell, without the influence of a toy."
That seems like a dubious proposition. In practice, the tiny sliver of kids' meal sales probably weren't worth the trouble of acquiring the toys and promoting the meals. (Creed ended Taco Bell's TV commercials promoting the meals in 2001.) If they're not selling, then they're not selling—and if you're a CEO who really doesn't want them to sell, you can probably make that happen.
A bigger issue for Taco Bell may be its image of itself as an "edgy, left-of-center millennial brand," as Creed described it. Edgy millennial men are increasingly getting married and having kids, at which point their tastes in shopping and food—especially fast food with the family—are likely to start being dictated by everyone else in the car (most of whom are not edgy millennial men). That intergenerational menu fight means that while Taco Bell is the first to cut kids' meals, it could easily be the last.
- See this Huffington Post story
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