Sweetgreen announced a new menu aimed at creating a more personalized dining experience. The menu, called Collections, includes dishes that meet specific dietary needs, as well as dishes prepared by a full roster of chefs.
The kicker? This new menu is only available from the Sweetgreen app and website.
All-digital products are a rarity. Chipotle embraced the idea earlier this summer with his new quesadilla, but overall, the restaurant concepts haven’t strayed much from the traditional approach to rolling out menu items.
Sweetgreen has done this with an expansive 35-item menu that features everything from dairy-free options and greens to seasonal offerings. There is also a “Eat Like a Chef” section which has options curated by Nancy Silverton (Mozza), Danny Bowein (Mission Chinese), Kwame Onwuachi (Kith and Kin), Missy Robbins (Lilia + Misi), Mei Lin (Nightshade) ), Liz Prueitt (Tartine) and Michael Solomonov (Zahav). Co-founder and concept director Nicolas Jammet said he was very excited about these partnerships.
“It allows us to celebrate the chefs and restaurateurs who inspire us the most. We are delighted that they share what they order when not cooking for themselves or for others, ”he said.
All of these options are only available in the Fall Collections menu, and don’t even take into account the chain’s existing robust menu. The company’s research found that 73% of its consumers are interested in incorporating seasonal ingredients into their orders and, as such, Jammet predicts that there will be more iterations of the digital-only menu after this initial launch. .
“We are excited to learn and understand what we need from this launch to expand, change and ultimately continue to evolve the collections,” he said. “The goal is to create more personalized experiences based on preferences and needs. Each customer has a different relationship with food.
The idea of launching a digital-only menu has been in the works for about two years, but like everything else in the industry, its launch has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Much of our business has gone digital, we felt it was a good time to unlock the functionality and give our customers the ability to have a larger set of content, as well as a more personalized experience.” , Jammet said. “Our business has been disrupted, so we’ve spent the last six months really trying to understand our customer and how our business needs to evolve around them.”
In fact, Jammet calls the menu a “game changer” because it gives Sweetgreen customers a new way to connect to their food with less friction. Based on the company’s consumer information, for example, 37% of its guests have some kind of dietary restriction, 17% don’t eat dairy, and 50% prefer high-protein bowls. The new menu includes five of these “collections” that meet these needs.
“This first iteration creates this breadth of menu content to share with all of our guests based on these different preferences. Some are nutritional and healthy, others just celebrate ingredients, like our crispy rice bowls. Providing all of these experiences is how we remove that friction, ”Jammet said.
The ultimate goal is to better understand how consumers consume Sweetgreen and to develop recommendations specific to each guest.
“When you open your app, we want it to make sense to you,” Jammet said.
This is a real possibility as the entire process goes through Sweetgreen’s proprietary digital channels, which provide the channel with full access to a significant amount of relevant consumer data.
“Having the direct relationship with the customer on our native application is a powerful tool for us. This allows us to invest in the experience, ”Jammet said. “The more we can understand our customers, the more we can continue to evolve that experience. ”
Jammet hopes Collections drives acquisition and frequency, and most importantly, continues to drive the business recovery forward from the depths of the pandemic, when revenues were low. down almost 70%. While the chain is certainly in a better position than many other companies due to its vast digital infrastructure, it has suffered greatly from the abrupt loss of the office lunch crowd.
The transfer of activities to its digital channels is undoubtedly the best way to accelerate this recovery. Before COVID, around 50% of Sweetgreen’s sales were digital. It has increased by almost 100%. Delivery sales are up 75%, which is notable when you consider that the chain just launched the chain in January.
These figures confirm recent comments by CEO Jonathan Neman to the Financial Time that COVID will “usher in a new generation of digital native restaurants built for delivery.” And that is also why the chain has prioritized its Collections plan.
“We had considered expanding our menu in 2021, but COVID forced us to speed up what we were doing. More and more customers are doing digital transactions and we had to think about what experiences we wanted to create for them digitally, ”Jammet said.
He believes customers not only want more digital experiences, but more personalized experiences as well. An interesting prospect, because off-site consumption has become a table issue in this environment. Considering the chains that flourished during the crisis, the pizzas or wings delivered generally do not translate to “personalized”. This is why the Collections menu is a bit against the trend, but that’s exactly what Sweetgreen consumers want.
“Especially in times of crisis, people’s relationship with food is important. The ethics around food haven’t changed, ”Jammet said. “Our customers tell us our food makes them feel good, and in a post-COVID world, that’s important.”
The Collections menu is launched today. On September 14, 100% of proceeds from “Eat Like a Chef” sales will be donated to the Independent Restaurant Coalition as part of its efforts to save local restaurants affected by COVID-19.