Following the success of its launch just before the pandemic, Panera Bread announced Tuesday the expansion of its coffee subscription program to all 26 drinks across Panera’s beverage program. The newly named Unlimited Sip Club will be available across all Panera restaurants and will cost $10.99 per month instead of $8.99 (current subscription members will be grandfathered in until the end of the year).
According to Sara Burnett, vice president of food beliefs, sustainability and PR, there were 600,000 coffee subscription members by the end of 2021, and members visit approximately eight times more than the average Panera customer. From a business perspective, the subscription made sense because they attach food to their orders — usually pastries or breakfast sandwiches — 30% of the time.
“The coffee subscription folks skew heavily toward the breakfast daypart, so we thought the natural extension of the was to drive this type of program for lunch and dinner too,” Burnett told Nation’s Restaurant News. “We wanted to provide something really premium to make it worth keeping their subscription. And that’s when we said, ‘we’re not going to just add one product category, we need it to be a whole portfolio of beverages.”
The Panera coffee subscription program launched in Feb. 2020 and was open to all MyPanera rewards program users, allowing subscribers to order unlimited cups of drip coffee, iced coffee and tea orders (and refills) once every two hours at any Panera location. Over the last two years, Burnett noted that 43% of subscribers were new Panera customers.
“Interestingly, during the pandemic, our coffee subscription program performed very well,” Burnett said. “I think it’s because we approached our coffee subscription as an all-access program available through every channel [delivery, in-store, takeout, drive-thru, etc.].”
The Unlimited Sip Club is an extension of that and gives members omnichannel access to unlimited drinks of coffee, hot tea, iced green tea, soft drinks, juices, lemonades and other drinks like the new caffeinated Lemonade Chargers, which come in flavors like Fuji apple cranberry and mango yuzu, and were announced around the time of release of Panera’s chicken sandwich last month.
“The Lemonade Chargers meet this growing need for guests who want something bold and fruity with a boost of caffeine as an alternative to a cup of coffee,” Burnett said. “We added these products to give some breadth of offering and excitement for subscribers. So now you can have your coffee in the morning, come back for a lemonade at lunch and maybe have a green tea in the evening.”
Starting April 19 through May 6, if guests sign up to subscribe to the Unlimited Sip program, they’ll get the subscription for free through July 4 “to see if it fits in with their lifestyle.”
Contact Joanna at [email protected]
Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi