- Sweetgreen launched a menu format Wednesday called Collections that include menu items curated around themes or specific dietary concerns, which are only available to order via the salad chain's website and mobile app. One menu is called "Eat Like a Chef" and features the favorite Sweetgreen orders of notable culinary stars, including Kwame Onwuachi and Missy Robbins.
- Collections also include five additional menus centered around dietary needs and interests, including Dairy-Free, Protein Packed, Crispy Rice and Super Seasonal as well as Crowd Pleasers, Sweetgreen said in an email. Collections categories will continue to be added and modified based on seasonal offerings. Eventually, Collections will include menu recommendations unique to each customer.
- This online-only menu offering is similar to Chipotle's Lifestyle Bowls, which are available only via mobile app and website orders and launched January 2019 in a bid to cater to consumers on paleo, keto, Whole30 and high-protein diets. This launch generated over 1 billion media impressions during its first few days, CEO Brian Niccol said.
Sweetgreen's new digital-only offerings appear to be a savvy way to hold diner interest as delivery and pickup orders continue to climb in the U.S. The fast casual chain's research found that 73% of its customers are interested in incorporating seasonal ingredients into their orders in new ways. Twenty-five percent of customers also reported that they like to order similar menu items to what they have already eaten, but will try new items from Sweetgreen's seasonal menus.
By bringing curated menus online alongside a new media campaign, Sweetgreen can create excitement around its offerings that could mirror what customers feel when the chain would change its seasonal menu board in-store. Sweetgreen co-founder and Chief Concept Officer Nicolas Jammet likens the Collections platform to "a culinary playlist" in the press release.
This isn't the first time that Sweetgreen has changed up its menu format to push diners to try new things. Last year, the company opened a new store design, called Sweetgreen 3.0, that moved its salad assembly line to back-of-house and features digital kiosks that allow diners to customizes their meals. Michael Stebner, Sweetgreen's director of culinary, told Restaurant Business last year that regulars often order the same salad each visit "because it's hard to get people to gamble on a $12 lunch" and the front-facing assembly line can put pressure on customers.
All the items in the Collections platform consist of ingredients already available on Sweetgreen's normal menu, the company said. This familiarity could help diners reluctant to stray from their go-to order to branch out, which could encourage more frequent orders because of newfound variety. Collections menu items will also be in the same price range as Sweetgreen's in-store offerings, the company said. Sweetgreen's plans for unique, personalized order suggestions for customers via Collections also primes for an increasingly digital- and delivery-heavy pandemic landscape.
It's interesting that some fast casuals, including Sweetgreen and Chipotle, are expanding their menus while QSRs like Taco Bell and McDonald's are culling their specialty items. It is notable, however, that these QSR cuts eliminate specific ingredients that could take longer to prepare, while both Chipotle and Sweetgreen's additions use ingredients that the chains already offer.