Taco Bell's recent fight against claims that its ‘seasoned beef’ taco filling is only 36% meat has had a major impact on the brand’s Buzz scores. As the biggest player in the US Mexican quick service sector, with around 5600 restaurants, it is not surprising that suspicion surrounding taco ingredients at the popular chain has had an effect on the quick service restaurant sector as a whole.
Taco Bell’s Buzz took a nosedive in the weeks following the lawsuit, with scores dropping from +20 to -22. This dip in Buzz is statistically significant and even more troubling as the measurement was taken amongst respondents who have eaten fast food over the last three months. A similar impact has been seen among the entire US population. However, heavy fast food users (respondents who have eaten fast food over the last month) were less dramatically affected as seen from a Buzz perspective, though scores did fall to near-zero levels.
A steep decline in scores to the brand have created a negative halo effect over the Mexican quick service restaurant sector with Buzz scores dropping from around 5 to 6 during the first three weeks of January to a paltry 1.5 by the first week of March.
In an apparently unconnected outbreak of meat scepticism, the chicken quick service restaurant sector also took a hit, with Buzz scores for the sector falling from 11 on January 20 to 8 by the first week of March. This downward trend started back in December and it is so far unclear as to what might be causing the fall in scores. Meanwhile, the pizza and hamburger sectors continue to make Buzz gains, building off strong positive momentum gained the last half of 2010.