Chipotle's new CEO is coming from a very different type of Mexican chain — fast-food icon Taco Bell.
On Tuesday, Chipotle announced that it had tapped Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol as the struggling chain's new top executive. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol's leadership, as the CEO pushed for creative marketing and wild new menu items, such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
While both Taco Bell and Chipotle both serve tacos and burritos, the two chain's reputations and strategies are extremely different. However, Chipotle needs a change, as it has struggled to win back customers following an E. coli crisis more than two years ago.
Niccol will bring a very different perspective from his time at Taco Bell — and that's expected to impact how Chipotle runs its business. Here are the changes customers can expect with Niccol in control of Chipotle.
Chipotle hinted at new menu items earlier in February. CEO Steve Ells said in a call with investors that the company is considering "salads with different kinds of grains," as well as "traditional things" like nachos and quesadillas.
Bringing on Niccol almost guarantees that the chain will start trying to add more items to the menu. While Chipotle has long attempted to keep its menu extremely simplistic, Taco Bell has found success by constantly rolling out new limited-time offerings, such as nacho fries and the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
One of the biggest differences between Taco Bell and Chipotle is that Taco Bell is more reliant on budget shoppers. Meanwhile, Chipotle can charge more for more premium products.
However, when customers aren't willing to pay, Chipotle needs to make changes.
The chain boosted traffic with several give-away deals in 2016, as a somewhat desperate attempt to bring customers back to the chain. The promotions didn't result in the long-term growth that Chipotle was looking for.
However, Taco Bell has found success in building out its $1 menu. The items aren't part of a promotion, and don't cost the fast-food chain much, but are able to bring in customers who don't want to spend much money. With Chipotle's push for new menu items, it's likely some less expensive options get added to the menu to appeal to budget-conscious customers.