Food & Drinks

Sweetgreen Has Launched A Salad Interpretation Of The Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Collectively, we probably have enough chicken sandwich news to last awhile (until the anticipated McDonald’s announcement in February, of course).

Arguably, what we don’t have enough of is interpretive takes on the chicken sandwich–one of the most demanded quick-service offerings ever. Sweetgreen is changing that, this week declaring its entry into the “crispy chicken wars” with its new Crispy Chicken Salad. It features a double serving of its crispy rice, romaine lettuce, baby spinach, blackened chicken, raw carrots, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, chopped local pickles and remoulade dressing.

According to Nicolas Jammet, co-founder and chief concept officer, this product was created specifically for guests who want the flavors and textures of a chicken sandwich (and have enabled its staggering success), but also want a balance that they can “feel good about.”

Sweetgreen is leveraging its crispy rice offering, which was introduced in the summer and has become a top-seller for guests wanting to add a non-fried crunchy texture to their meals.

“As 2021 kicks off and we’re still at home, we wanted to create something our customers could feel excited about and start the New Year off in a balanced way,” Jammet said. “The Crispy Chicken Salad celebrates the comforting, craveable flavors of the beloved crispy chicken sandwich, but with healthy, fresh ingredients, including a double scoop of our sustainable crispy rice.”

Notably, the offering is part of Sweetgreen’s new Crispy Collections menu, which leverages digital influencers’ favorite crispy salad orders. Starting today, guests can order YouTuber Valkyrae’s Extra Crispy Custom salad, while on Jan. 18, they can order Peloton instructor/TEDx speaker Ally Love’s Go Avo Custom salad and on Jan. 21, they can order Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters’ No Picks Pls Custom salad.

Promoting new menus and menu items through the voice of celebrities has become quite a trend in recent months, thanks in large part to McDonald’s wildly successful Travis Scott Meal. Wendy’s recently teamed up with five Twitch streamers for a delivery-only meal promotion, while Dunkin’ recently had one of its most successful product launches ever thanks to a partnership with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio.

Sweetgreen is looking to duplicate that success with its three partners, and may very well do just that. Valkyrae, for example, is one of the top female gamers in the world and has nearly 3 million subscribers on her YouTube page. Peloton’s subscribers are up over 100% year-over-year, with about 3.1 million members in total, so plenty of people are familiar with Ally Love as well.

“Tapping into their expansive followings will introduce us to new customers who might not yet be familiar with Sweetgreen, but who are eager to prioritize healthy living in the New Year,” Jammet said. “Given the amount of time folks are spending at home and online these days, we wanted to partner with some of the people who are making a name for ‘healthy streaming.’”

Like the chain’s Collections menu launched in September, the Crispy Collections menu is available exclusively on its app, a move aimed at both expanding Sweetgreen’s core audience and appealing to those who are tapped into the digital world. Jammet adds that such digital-only access provides a more customizable, unique experience for customers.

Obviously this approach has proved to be a success for the chain’s customer base or this latest iteration wouldn’t have launched. With the Collections introduction in September, Jammet said the idea to launch a digital-only menu has been in the works for about two years, but that idea was hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So much of our business became digital, we thought it was a good time to unlock the feature and give our customers the ability to have a broader set of content, as well as a more customized experience,” he said. 

Sweetgreen is promoting its new salad and Crispy Collections menu by asking customers to share how they mix their salad via TikTok while using the hashtag #sweetgreenshake. The chain has also launched a new microsite dedicated to “all things crispy rice.” Jammet said the timing of the launch was intentional to start the New Year healthy and the team’s inspiration for the launch came from the idea of “Carpe Diem.”

“We created a bowl, microsite and series of experiences all designed to encourage our customers to seize the day, month and year in their own way,” he said. “Knowing our customers are passionate about where their food comes from and how it’s made, we created ingredient cards that take you on a deep dive into each ingredient with details about the role they play in the bowl and the food system.”

Sweetgreen could be onto something here. A recent study from the International Food Information Council found that more consumers are eating healthier than they usually do as a result of the pandemic, while The Center for Food Integrity finds that 65% of consumers want to know more about where their food comes from. Sweetgreen has even gone a step further in creating a “behind-the-scenes” look at the process of creating the Crispy Chicken Salad.

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