About Hidden Menus
Hidden menus (also known as secret menus) allow brands to reward guests with early or exclusive menu access. Without relying on traditional discount-based rewards that can be expensive and brand eroding, hidden menus incentivize customers to purchase in-store and through direct ordering channels rather than third-party platforms.
You may be familiar with the concept of a secret menu. What you may not know is how Thanx takes that capability further to power sophisticated, targeted marketing for different segments of customers.
- You can create multiple Hidden Menus. Imagine creating a secret beverage menu while also having a secret breakfast menu.
- You can limit which segment of customers see your menu. For example, giving only VIPs access to an exclusive item or offering a secret menu for a specific location to test a new item launch.
- You can restrict how long the menu is available for. A seasonal menu can be available for the month of December only or you can create urgency by having a hidden menu live for only the next 7 days.
- You can configure Hidden Menus to be redeemed in-store and/or online. With Thanx, you can incentivize customers to order through digital channels by offering a hidden menu for online only.
Watch this video for a quick Q+A about Hidden Menu:
Amplify Promotional Marketing
Creating a buzz around menu items is essential to generating excitement and driving trial. Limiting access is a great way to create that buzz because it creates a sense of urgency by making the item exclusive and coveted. Release of a secret menu can be part of a broader promotional strategy and is effective in generating media attention and press.
Even a long-term hidden menu strategy keeps your brand top of mind among super fans. And if an item stays on a secret menu for long enough it just might reach iconic status – think of In-N-Out’s animal-style burger.
Drive Engagement And Brand Affinity
Your customers have options – whether that be ordering from third-party delivery apps instead of direct or even ordering from a competitor instead of your brand. Incentivizing your customers is one way to deter these behaviors. Historically, brands had to lean into discounts, coupons, and freebies in order to combat competition and drive trial. Thanx enables restaurant brands to move away from these expensive, generic discounts which risk devaluing your brand, and training customers to seek out these offers.
Now your best customers (or any segment of guests you choose) can feel special and be inspired into action without discounts. Offering access to a hidden menu can incentivize your guests to order direct over third-party, increase their ordering frequency, and spend more. Hidden menus can also reward customers for these behaviors, by granting them access to exclusive menu items reserved especially for them as a thank you.
Ease Operational Burdens
Launching a secret or hidden menu has many operational benefits that make it a no-brainer. Using a secret menu to grant early access or restricted access to smaller segments of customers is an effective tool to facilitate a soft launch of a product or menu item.
Say a new appetizer is launching and your restaurant offers that item for VIPs only on a secret menu for the first two weeks. Your BOH team can use that time to learn how to make the item, troubleshoot any issues, and perfect the timing and execution. All the while, your FOH staff can learn about the item, what makes it special, and how to sell it effectively. After two weeks, your staff has worked out all the kinks and is ready for a broader launch for your entire customer base.
Controlling inventory is a ubiquitous challenge across the restaurant inventory. Too much of a product can be as big of a problem as too little. If your restaurant finds itself with an abundance of a product, your marketing team can help push menu items featuring that product by adding it to a secret menu. Now you are moving through the additional product while making your best customers feel special by giving them access to a special item. Conversely, if your supply chain is feeling constrained by the lack of availability of a certain product, your marketing team can consider moving menu items featuring that product to a VIP-only hidden menu. Now your best customers still have access to those menu items, your brand avoids a negative experience for those valuable guests, and you can restrict general availability for below-par items all at the same time.
The applications for this non-discount reward are practically endless. When you give customers exclusive access to Hidden Menus, you can:
- Create an exclusive item for Loyalty Members to encourage customers to order directly.
- Create items that are exclusive to your best customers and incentivizes additional customer frequency, like “reach gold tier to unlock secret milkshake flavors!”
- Pilot a menu with your most loyal customers and let their feedback influence what goes on the menu next.
- Bring back a favorite item for a limited time. For example, bring back a classic or throwback item for your anniversary.
- Use hidden menu for seasonal menus. Imagine for the 12 days leading up to Christmas, your team can release limited-edition holiday items.
- Inventory problems? Re-package existing items into a secret menu or limit who gets items that you have a limited quantity of.
- Push customers to digital channels by creating a hidden menu that’s exclusive to online orders.
- Drive in-store sales by creating a hidden menu that’s exclusive to on-premise orders.
Another way to use hidden menus is to give customers early access to menus. Giving your VIPs the first chance to try new and LTO menu items is another fantastic way to make your best customers feel special without extending discounts or freebies.
For a list of more non-discount reward ideas check out our blog post here.
Interested in learning more about why Thanx’s Hidden Menu capability is the future of loyalty? Talk to one of our loyalty experts to see to see how hidden menus can work for your brand!
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