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IKEA Hacks and Secret Menus

September 8, 2014

Many fast food restaurants have secret menus – in fact there are websites set up to let inquiring minds get in the know.

For example, McDonalds has a McGangBang, which is a McChicken sandwich inserted into a double cheeseburger. And the 10:58 – a combination breakfast sandwich hamburger.

Burger King has Frings (sorry Gus from Breaking Bad, these are not named for you but are a combo pack of onion rings and fries).

Wendy’s has The Barnyard, a stack of bacon, a beef patty, spicy chicken filet, and ham, all with cheese between each layer.

While these items are not on the menu boards, you can ask for these and get them at almost every store.  The secret items allow you to create something new from the established ingredients sold at the restaurants.

Some restaurants go even further – they promote the secret menu to provide customers with an “insider’s” advantage to try and promote loyalty.

One local hot spot, Burger’s Priest, seems to have a larger secret menu than its regular menu and requires an answer to a question to gain admittance to the secret menu.

It is a search for individualism in a standardized world as well as a way to be in the in-crowd at a popular spot.

But the idea of secret menus is not limited to food.  IKEA hacking has been gaining popularity as well.

IKEA hacking is the building of non-standardized furniture from the one-size-fits-all assemble it yourself kits one buys from IKEA.  The creativity is inspiring.  In answer to the question, why not just buy the lumber and fasteners yourself, IKEAhackers explain that the uniform sizing allows them to share their improvised designs with people all over the world who have access to the standardized IKEA kits.

I saw the same behaviour when working with cake mix manufacturers.  Not every cake mix user made their cakes to the exact recipe on the box.  Many people doctored or improvised additions and customizations to the standard cake recipe.

And if you have seen the Lego movie, you know that it is a clear theme from a product that has gone from freeform – make what you want – to the discipline of a kit to make pirate ships, death stars and school houses.

These behaviours, like others, show that humans are conflicted about standardization and their desire to be unique.  We all say we want to be distinct and different, but then we all also rely on standardized products for their consistency and reliability.  No surprises.

So good marketing advice – provide a consistent and reliable product that also has the flexibility to satisfy the idiosyncrasies of your consumers.

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