Shake Shack’s Premiumization Strategy Setting it Apart

two burgers

Menu innovations are a key part of Shake Shack’s strategy, as CEO Randy Garutti noted in the chain’s latest earnings call.

Though it has become well-known for its ShackBurgers, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes, the chain has recently been gaining traction from premium, limited time offerings (LTOs) such as the latest Black Truffle Burger, plus menu add-ons like avocados.

These premium additions are giving Shake Shack’s loyal following new items to try, as well as luring new customers.


In 2020, Shake Shack tapped into the rise in ethnic food with Korean-style offerings. It has also collaborated with Milk Bar for limited-edition shakes, launched a honey chicken sandwich, and a shrimp burger topped with a crispy hash brown, to name a few prominent LTOs.

“We’re always aiming to provide uplifting experiences for our guests, and one of the ways we do that is through a rotating menu of limited-edition offerings where we get to experiment with unique ingredients,” a Shake Shack representative told The Food Institute. “Overwhelmingly, we’ve found fans get excited about our limited-time offerings with premium add-ons and they drive more traffic.

The company representative added that guest feedback and sales data on such premium offerings also informs future menu ideation since it shows the brand what’s resonating with customers.


With its latest truffle offering, Shake Shack has “pushed the upper envelope” when it comes to pricing, Garutti noted during the earnings call. The items feature a sauce that’s made with black truffle oil, a premium ingredient. The burger rings in at $8.99 in most urban markets, compared to $6.39 for the company’s classic ShackBurger.

“It’s going to teach us a lot about our opportunities to offer even more premium items down the road,” Garutti said.

During a recent webinar co-hosted by The Food Institute and DMA, Stephanie Epperson – NPD’s executive director, analytics – touched on how LTO purchases drive check prices for restaurants along the lines of Shake Shack. She noted that LTO main dishes offered a $3.60 party check lift when compared to the period before their launch, showing that consumers are willing to spend on such menu items.