Taco Bell, which is known for launching unorthodox menu items, such as the as the Doritos Locos Taco, follows an innovation process that is all about communication and addressing needs in the market. "We're always listening to the consumer and always exploring and trying new things," said Liz Matthews, the company's chief food and beverage innovation officer.
Consumers want the restaurants they frequent to use the technology they're familiar with to offer faster service, according to a recent Technomic survey. A growing number of eateries are obliging, with mobile and social ordering options, iPad ordering kiosks, tabletop checkout and several other tools.
CEO Frank Paci launched into a revamp when he took the reins at McAlister's Deli in 2010, simultaneously upgrading ingredients and service in a strategy that's paid off in nine consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. "A lot of our business comes from lunchtime, and a lot of people are limited with the time they have. If it’s taking too long and you’re not able to enjoy your lunch, it’s something that’s degrading the experience," Paci said.
Chicken popped up in new ways on more quickservice menus this year, from Burger King's roll-out of its most ambitious chicken menu to new premium sandwiches at Wendy's and Sonic to McDonald's chicken snacks. The list of diverse menu trends also includes the continuing popularity of bacon, the rise in snacking and the return to indulgent desserts.