What is a Secret Menu & Why Do They Deliver ?

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on January 10, 2014
Top Secret Stamp

Top Secret Menus Offer Great Possibilities to Devoted Followers


It seems like everyone is talking about “secret menus” these days, which ironically, means they’re not so secret anymore.

What is a Secret Menu?

If it’s new to you, a secret menu includes unadvertised, specially prepared items that consumers learn about by word of mouth (in person and online). Fast food and fast-casual restaurants from Starbucks to In-N-Out Burger are staying relevant by offering special off-the-menu items to consumers “in the know.” I like this trend and think it works for two, related reasons

Why do Secret Menus Deliver?

Reason 1 – Secret menus are a smart use of social media to share not merely useful, but special, information with your online audience. What better way to get people to tune in to your social channel than to offer them something they can’t get elsewhere? And when the “in” crowd orders their special item at a brick-and-mortar store, or – inevitably – brags about their unique item, they contribute to the restaurant’s brand value – and sales. If you’re a service business, why not use this model to offer special discounts or “one hour free” offers to your online audience?

See Also: A Teaspoon of Marketing Insight From My Holiday Train Ride

Reason 2 – Secret menus are a new wrapper for the evergreen business values of customer service and customization.  As a near-vegetarian and picky-healthy eater, I know firsthand that any restaurant worth its weight in SPAM will customize dishes upon polite request. Many of them offer additional off-the-menu vegetarian items, and more than a couple of chefs have gone out of their way to create something unique and seasonal, customized to my diet. As the owner of a small business and creative agency, I can appreciate this. We customize our offerings every day – not just in terms of customized design, but working with clients to deliver quality services that fit their needs and their budget.


As a marketer, I think of the Secret Menu trend as a successful rebrand of an old-fashioned value proposition. And I’ll raise a fork to that!

Posted Under: Advertising, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online, Social Media
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