Secret Menus? Way Cool!


Get this for a new way to use social media - AND a new way to MEASURE your company's social media reach!! From USA Today: Psst. Wanna know what your favorite fast food joint will secretly sell you -- that's not on the menu?

Of course you do -- and so do millions of others who are hungry to be in-the-know. That's why "secret menus" – stuff you can order that's not posted on menu boards -- are picking up steam as more restaurants are linked to the trend, including In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, McDonald's and, most recently, Panera Bread.

Panera has rather quietly started to sell Power Bowls at breakfast, lunch and dinner filled with things like chicken, spinach and hummus – never mind that they're not on the menu board. Panera mostly spreads the word via social media.

"Secret menus allow us to speak to one audience without the investment and infrastructure of putting an item on the menu," says Ron Shaich, founder of Panera. In this case, he says, the latest hidden menu is aimed at Panera fans who can't eat or don't want to eat the chain's most basic product: bread. All six of these items are bread-less.

Beyond that, Shaich says of secret menus, "they've very cool."

Ah, yes, the coolness quotient. "It's there to build an elevated level of affinity to a select few," says restaurant PR guru Derek Farley. But, he says, there can be a downside. "You may build buzz about your brand," he says, "but I'd rather sell something that appeals to a lot than a few."

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