May 08, 2023


Customization of mobile orders can be a double-edged sword. A growing surge of customized, cold coffee orders pushed Starbucks to redesign its kitchen system as mobile orders strained existing processes, for example. Chick-fil-A's decision to remove some options and charge fees for others could be a way to forestall operational disruptions stemming from highly-customized digital orders.

Still, order personalization can help attract lucrative Gen Z consumers, who often value highly customized orders or meals that resemble viral social media trends. Appealing to this block of consumers is key for the chain, as Gen Z strongly favors Chick-fil-A.

Possible menu customizations on the app include a chicken sandwich with pepper jack cheese and barbecue sauce, Strawberry Lemonade and a Cookies & Cream Milkshake with extra chocolate syrup, according to the press release.

Other brands have leaned into customized items, sometimes dubbed "menu hacks," as well. Chipotle added a TikTok-viral Fajita Quesadilla to its menu earlier this year, and Carl's Jr. and Hardee's asked Twitch users to help redesign their menu in 2022. On the loyalty front, brands have worked to increase the personalization of their rewards offerings as a point of differentiation with competitors. Panera, which has long used a surprise-and-delight rewards model, added an element of customization to its rewards options in September.

These updates come a few months after Chick-fil-A rolled out enhancements to its loyalty program, and a few weeks after it began adding geofencing to its app nationwide.