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02/27/2020

Panera in industry-first with coffee subscription

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Coffee lovers have a new subscription option.

Fast-casual food service retailer Panera is introducing what it calls the first unlimited monthly coffee subscription plan offered by a national restaurant chain. Customers can receive unlimited hot drip coffee, iced coffee and hot tea for $8.99 per month.

The new coffee subscription, known as “MyPanera+Coffee,” is available to members of the retailer’s free MyPanera loyalty program. MyPanera members can register for the subscription via the Panera website and mobile app. Sign up via QR code will be also available in Panera stores nationwide beginning Monday, March 2. The plan is available for $8.99 plus tax and includes one cup of drip hot coffee, hot tea, or iced coffee every two hours during regular store hours, including free refills of the same beverage at participating U.S. locations.

"Coffee is an important daily ritual for so many—it can give you a dose of optimism—it lifts you up,” said Niren Chaudhary, Panera CEO. “We kept asking ourselves, why can't it be more accessible, more affordable? Moreover, could unlimited coffee translate to unlimited optimism? Today, we're changing the game for coffee drinkers across the country with our no compromises, unlimited subscription service—great coffee at an amazing value. We are eliminating the price barrier and the false choices between convenience and quality – between good coffee and craveable food. At Panera, there's no more compromise—and your cup is always full."

Panera is supporting the launch of MyPanera+Coffee with an integrated marketing and creative campaign, “Your Cup is Always Full,” which includes digital, TV, radio, and more.

Tom Caposano, CEO of Clarus Commerce, said Panera should obtain several benefits from MyPanera+Coffee.

"By offering unlimited coffee and tea for a monthly fee of $8.99, customers will start to see savings after only a few cups - a huge leg up against competitor menus that cost the same amount (or more) every single week," commented Caposano. "Even better, the subscription will encourage more frequent stops at Panera restaurants, with a higher likelihood that enrollees will try a breakfast or lunch item to pair with their daily coffee reward. Over time, it will rake in an abundance of helpful customer data, allowing the brand to uncover exactly what customers like the most. Because of these insights, Panera will be able to tailor its next loyalty program updates based on real customer feedback, strengthening current and future loyalty in the process."

A number of on-demand food delivery platforms, including Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Door Dash, have all introduced subscription plans that offer unlimited free or discounted deliveries of food and beverage items for a monthly fee. But Panera does appear to be entering new territory. It will be worth watching whether other fast-casual and coffee retailers follow suit.