Taco Bell, the Mexican-food chain with 7,000 restaurants in the U.S., is beginning a venture with the ride-hailing company that lets Lyft passengers request rides that include a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to a statement.
The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, for two weeks at a location in Newport Beach, CA, with plans to expand the program nationally in 2018.
Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Melissa Waters, Lyft’s head of marketing, told the New York Times.
Taco Bell’s partnership with Lyft shows that the restaurant chain is in touch with its customer base of younger adults with late-night munchies (the companies don’t mention the likelihood that alcohol is also involved). Foursquare data show that about 15% of Taco Bell's customers visit between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., QSR Magazine reported in October. Late-night diners made up 11% of McDonald's customers, 10.5% for Wendy’s and 3.5% of Qdoba's customers.
Lyft previously partnered with Absolut on a promotion but it is interesting that Taco Bell chose to partner with Lyft instead of Uber, which has had a number of unique brand partnerships in the past, including with Hershey's and Ikea. However, the ride-hailing leader has been going through a rough period following some missteps that have turned away users and internal strife that resulted in its CEO Travis Kalanick to recently step down.
Taco Bell has partnered with popular mobile apps in the past so a repeat of the strategy suggests the brand found some measure of success. Last fall, a Taco Bell restaurant was transformed into an Airbnb for one night.
At least ride-hailing is a safer alternative to driving while impaired. Millennials are more likely to use a ride-hailing app when going out at night than for any other occasion, according to a consumer study last month by LRW and Lyft. About one in four consumers use ride-hailing apps, and do so multiple times a month, citing the No. 1 reason as convenience, according to a report from market researcher Mintel cited by Lyft.
Meanwhile, McDonald's has created a collection of branded casual clothes that will be part of a giveaway on July 26 for customers ordering McDelivery from UberEats in select cities, according to a website set up by the company. The McDelivery Collection includes jogging pants, hoodies, a burger pillow, flip-flops, a onesie and more, as reported by TechCrunch.