Fast-casual darling Shake Shack is partnering with digital ordering platform Doordash to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The program, coyly dubbed Eat Cute and available through February 15th, has a swipe-based interface. Participants who match get a coupon for a free Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, newly launched by the brand. There’s no chat function, but users can share their Instagram accounts to connect later. The chicken sandwich requires a $20 minimum purchase via Doordash, which includes the cost of the sandwich.
Shake Shack has long been lauded for its unique marketing strategy, relying on social media and organic user growth amongst Gen Z’ers and millennials through a prominent Instagram following that dwarfs other brands of its size. The Union Square Hospitality Group brand has engaged in partnerships with Uber Eats and Grubhub through the years, leaning into the domination of delivery platforms. Beyond this strategic marketing, Shake Shack also regularly launches pop-up offerings in partnership with regional chefs and restaurateurs around the country—a star-studded lineup that has included Dominique Crenn, JJ Johnson, and Junghyun Park.
Various brands are taking advantage of Valentine’s Day marketing to increase sales, from Chick-fil-A’s heart-shaped nugget tray to Krispy Kreme’s heart-shaped donut collection. Insomnia Cookies is also offering a tongue-in-cheek Singles Awareness pack, which includes a pint of ice cream and a mini cake. California Pizza’s Kitchen is also reviving a fan-favorite “Sweet Deal for Two” menu, with two options for a three-course meal including wine, entrees, appetizers, and dessert.
The successful marketing of Shake Shack and other young brands like Sweetgreen reveals an important lesson that social media is more important than ever in building and retaining loyal fanbases. In the age of hype, the tech-savvy restaurant can maneuver with more agility the compounding stressors of supply chain woes, operation difficulties, hiring shortages, and increasing menu prices.