Taco Bell is using one key advantage to overtake Chipotle

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Taco Bell has one goal: to win the hearts of millennials.

"Taco Bell's goal is to be America's favorite millennial brand, and we are making substantial strides to deliver on that aspiration," CEO Greg Creed told analysts in a conference call last year.

In recent years, the fast food company has been working hard to shake its "Taco Hell" image of selling cheap, unsafe food.

Traditional millennial favorites like Apple, Chipotle, and Nike have a more luxurious image than the fast-food chain.

Still, Taco Bell seems to be thriving.

Sales increased 4% in the most recent quarter, outpacing the rest of the industry. There are indications Taco Bell is benefiting from Chipotle's brush with E. coli, which caused sales to plummet 36% in January.

The company has made progress with 18 to 35-year-olds with bestselling menu items like the Doritos Locos Taco and the breakfast Waffle Taco.

It's also pledged to start selling cage-free eggs, a key measure in the era of food transparency.

See some of the differences between Chipotle and Taco Bell:

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Taco Bell vs Chipotle
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Taco Bell is using one key advantage to overtake Chipotle
Taco Bell and Pizza Hut say they're getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
A new Chipotle Mexican Grill location is pictured at University Village in Seattle, Washington on November 3, 2015. An outbreak of E. coli bacteria linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants has spread, with the number of people sickened rising from 22 to 37, US authorities said November 3, 2015. In the northwest state of Washington 25 people have been infected, up from 19. Twenty-three of them reported eating at a Chipotle burrito outlet before getting sick and nine were hospitalized, the state health department said. The victims range in age from five to 60. In neighboring Oregon the number has risen from three as of November 1, 2015 to 12 in and around Portland. AFP PHOTO / JASON REDMOND (Photo credit should read JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)
A menu at the new Taco Bell Cantina Restaurant on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Chicago, Ill. This is the first time the chain is serving alcohol in the United States. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Doritos Locos tacos and a fountain drink are arranged for a photograph at a Taco Bell restaurant, a unit of Yum! Brands Inc., in Redondo Beach, California, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Yum! Brands Inc. is scheduled to release earnings data on Oct. 8. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/10/18: Restaurants in USA: Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is a chain of restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France, specializing in Mission burritos and tacos. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27: Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers on the day that the company announced it will only use non-GMO ingredients in its food on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The company announced, that the Denver-based chain would not use the GMO's, which is an organism whose genome has been altered via genetic engineering in the food served at Chipotle Mexican Grills. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This Thursday, July 9, 2015 photo shows a Taco Bell, a Yum Brands restaurant, in Pembroke, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Crispy beef tacos from Taco Bell Corp. are arranged for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Taco Bell sales began to pick up last year after its Doritos Locos Tacos mashup generated buzz even among food critics. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27: Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers on the day that the company announced it will only use non-GMO ingredients in its food on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The company announced, that the Denver-based chain would not use the GMO's, which is an organism whose genome has been altered via genetic engineering in the food served at Chipotle Mexican Grills. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27: A customer carries a tray with his Chipotle food order, on the day that the company announced it will only use non-GMO ingredients in its food on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The company announced, that the Denver-based chain would not use the GMO's, which is an organism whose genome has been altered via genetic engineering in the food served at Chipotle Mexican Grills. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Taco Bell also has another advantage over other millennial favorites: it's cheap.

People in their 20s and 30s say they favor fast-casual joints like Chipotle, Five Guys, and Panera Bread. They claim they care about things like food quality, customization, and ethics.

"Increasingly, younger diners are seeking out fresher, healthier food and chains that offer customizable menu options for little more than the price of a combo meal," The Wall Street Journal reported recently.

But a recent report by Morgan Stanley reveals the difference between what millennials say and what they do.

McDonald's is still the most visited restaurant for the demographic thanks to its value menu, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley. Taco Bell comes in 3rd place while Chipotle comes in 11th.

NOW WATCH: We tried Taco Bell's new 'Biscuit Taco' and the reviews are mixed

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