"The marketplace is contracting and all the brands are using value to get sales," says David Ovens, CMO of Taco Bell, which itself touting its "Why Pay More" menu of 79-to-99-cent items such as the Cheesy Double Beef Burrito and Triple Layer Nachos.
Quiznos is one chain that has avoided the less-than-$1 level. Its marketing research found that "there is kind of a big cliff above $4 right now" and set that price point as its target, according to CEO Rick Schaden. A team of chefs, accountants and marketers developed a $4 Torpedo sub sandwich that rolled out last month. It now accounts for about 25% of the chain's sales, Schaden says.