Taco Bell is being sued for false advertising of their Crunchwrap supreme. And this teaches us a very important lesson about brand loyalty.

Going out on a limb, I don’t think I’m the first one to discover that how a product is marketed isn’t always how it really is.

This has been a conversation for years. Back in the 90s, Michael Douglas starred in the film “Falling Down” where he fires off a submachine gun in a fast food joint while pointing out how sad his burger looks compared to the thick and juicy picture of it on the wall.

michael douglas burger brand loyalty

Today, there’s a whole industry for food photography with the sole intention of making food look as delicious as possible.

Though it’s interesting to note that back in the 70s the FTC filed a complaint against the Campbell Soup Company because of their use of glass beads to make ingredients rise to the top of the soup bowl.

Nowadays, American law dictates that food advertising must use the actual, real ingredients in the food being displayed.

However, that hasn’t stopped companies from stretching the rules between expectations and reality.

Personally, I don’t find Taco Bell to be the last bastion of luxurious dining experiences. I sort of know what I’m paying for when I go through a Taco Bell drive-through.

On the other hand, consumers in general have become more spending aware as businesses have continued to use “inflation” as a cover for increasingly higher prices.

Cnet.com reported this past year that Wendy’s fast food alone had increased prices on average by 35% from the previous year alone.

fast food brand loyalty

Food prices aren’t the only thing that’s increased in recent years. In the auto industry for example, the sticker tag for new vehicles has risen 20% compared to two years prior.

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We actually chatted about this last week when we pointed out that car subscriptions are a thing nowadays… with companies like BMW charging a monthly fee to enable heated seats.

Unsurprisingly, as prices continue to rise, customers continue to evaluate what businesses are actually worthy of their dollar.

Brand loyalty has never been more important in today’s day and age.


So what is brand loyalty?


Put it simply, brand loyalty is quantified by two main elements:

  1. It’s a buyer’s satisfaction of the products or services they’ve purchased from said brand.
  2. It’s a brand’s ability to retain customers and ultimately be resilient against the best marketing their competitors can offer.

Put another way – whether it’s COVID, inflation, or any significant market swing – customers keep buying from these companies despite the circumstances.

Companies that build brand loyalty well are keeping their customers no matter whatever macro event is occurring.

Companies that don’t do this well apparently get sued.

Which brings us to the latest news on Taco Bell.

A disgruntled customer filed a class action law suit against Taco Bell this past Monday, accusing the major brand of falsely advertising both their Crunchwrap and Mexican Pizza products.

According to this customer, the ads for these products illustrated “at least double” their actual content.

See for yourself:

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It actually throws me back to a time several years ago when I ordered a chicken quesadilla from the drive-through and then was stunned when I got home to find that half the quesadilla was just folded tortilla and cheese… with the chicken mysteriously missing.

Now you may be saying… do people actually notice the quality of their order when it comes to fast food?

And maybe that’s the biggest takeaway of all when it comes to brand loyalty.


How Brand Loyalty connects to repeat sales


A business owner (or in this case, some executive in a board room somewhere) looks at their disappointing product and says, “Who’s really going to notice?”

The problem is that some people really do notice. Especially if you’re going to ask them to pay more for less.

In some cases it surely is scummy advertising – in others, it’s businesses simply cutting costs.

To be honest, it’s absolutely wild to me how businesses don’t lean in more when it comes to brand loyalty.

It’s not a genius concept – it’s simple math: a customer who buys from you again and again will always outspend the first time buyer.

We’ve talked a lot about it on the Good Advice Podcast and how curbing the madness of the months-on-end selling cycle is all the less about savvy sales pitches and all the more about completely wowing your customer.

Businesses love to chant “underpromise and overdeliver” when in actuality most businesses are doing the opposite.

Meanwhile, good businesses are “honestly promising and over delivering”.

I think somewhere along the way the lines blurred between being a great marketer and outright lying to your prospective customers.

When I first started Good Advice, a digital marketer I hired instructed me to rent out a condo that would overlook downtown Fayetteville.

“Look the part,” he explained, telling me to then record myself standing in “my” condo sharing how great my business was, and how I could help others have the same success in their businesses.

“That’d be lying though,” I pointed out. Almost embarrassed to have heard these words leave my mouth, this marketer’s eyes nearly rolled out of his head as he replied, “This is how this works.”

Honestly, I was so grossed out by this kind of tactic that I think for years since I’ve always undersold the outcomes we’ve achieved at Good Advice.

In my mind, brand loyalty starts with a deep understanding and appreciation that someone’s dollar is deeply tied to their trust in you.

Doing the right and honest thing then means I deliver on what I tell my customers.

It doesn’t mean I’m a perfect business owner – but it does mean that I try to be as aware as possible if I am overdelivering or leaving my customers with buyer’s remorse.

And I don’t think this is a “high-ticket” conversation either.

I think even brands that sell products en masse at an inexpensive price point can do this well without outright lying about all the benefits of what they offer.

When I think of McDonald’s for example, I know I’m not getting a CJ’s burger. I think it would be a bit nonsensical for McDonald’s to pretend to be that, and trying to do so honestly just leads to the same outcome that Taco Bell has found themselves in.

I guess the optimist in me (maybe the naïve soul in me) could see McDonalds leaning in on the fact that they offer affordable food to a significant percentage of the world (I think they do mention this somewhere, by the way).

But then again, it probably doesn’t sell as well as a picture of a thick and juicy cheeseburger.

I will say though, I don’t think I’m being completely naïve. Chick-Fil-A has continued to grow year after year as a major competitor in the fast food space. I like their chicken sandwiches but it’s their customer service that’s always been the selling point for me.

Point being – when you intentionally take the time to individually value each customer, it shapes how your business is perceived.

More importantly, when it comes to brand loyalty – building your tribe of 1,000 Raving Fans means it is less about a bulging marketing budget and more about respecting and appreciating that your customer said “Yes” to you against a sea of competitors.

It’s why I shared this week on the power of the handwritten note.

There’s nothing all that special or insightful about it – but the fact of the matter is that few businesses will take the time to personally show value to a customer.

Which makes it a whole lot easier to create repeat customers, and more importantly, makes it that much easier to be the obvious choice in your industry.

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Blake also runs the Good Advice Podcast, one of the top business podcasts in the country, available on every podcast platform. Listen via Spotify.