Panera Creates First Nationwide Subscription for All Self-Serve Drinks

    The program has proven to grow transactions and attract new guests.

    Fast Casual | April 19, 2022 | Ben Coley
    Panera launched a new drink subscription for all self-serve beverages.
    Panera
    Customers are able to use the Unlimited Sip Club subscription every two hours, plus free refills.

    Panera announced Tuesday that its launching a subscription program for all of its self-service beverages and other drinks, more than two years after the successful rollout of its coffee membership. 

    For $10.99 per month, MyPanera loyalty customers can sign up for the Unlimited Sip Club and have access to 26 drinks, including hot and iced coffee, hot and iced teas, Agave Lemonade, Pepsi products, and new beverage platform, Charged Lemonades. New and lapsed subscribers who sign up between now and May 6 will receive a free subscription through July 6. 

    In test, Panera saw the Sip Club increase food attachment to orders, grow transactions during the lunch and dinner dayparts, and attract new customers. Guests are able to use the subscription once every two hours, plus unlimited refills. The program is not available as part of catering or orders placed on third-party delivery websites. Items not available with the subscription include cold brew iced coffee and espresso and cappuccino beverages.

    “At Panera, we believe in making great food experiences accessible to all—we’re disrupting fast casual once again, providing unlimited access to high-quality beverages at tremendous value—just $10.99 a month,” CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a statement. “Our guests have loved the subscription model and the convenience and value it brings to their daily lives. From our new Charged Lemonades to our fan favorite Passion Papaya Green Iced Tea to bubly Lime from PepsiCo, we’re excited to give our guests even more choice and more beverage options to fuel their day.”

    The Sip Club builds on MyPanera+Coffee, which debuted in February 2020. Through the subscription, loyalty members receive unlimited coffee and tea, iced or hot, any size, for $8.99 per month. At the end of 2021, Panera's coffee program had roughly 600,000 members, and more than half were active and paying. Compared to non-members last year, coffee subscribers showcased 8x higher monthly frequency and spent up to 11 times more annually. Also, 30 percent of customers included a food attachment and 43 percent were new to Panera. 

    Panera's new Charged Lemonades are launching in conjunction with the Unlimited Sip Club. The bakery-cafe describes the drink as a "thirst-quenching beverage that brings energizing lift in bold, bright flavors." The offerings include Strawberry Lemon Mint, Fuji Apple Cranberry and Mango Yuzu Citrus.

    “Our three new Charged Lemonades are a refreshing new way to get your energy boost in true Panera fashion—with delicious flavors, powered by Clean plant-based caffeine from guarana and green coffee extract. Using our iconic Agave Lemonade as the base, our chefs added bold flavors like Mango Yuzu and Fuji Apple,” Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer said in a statement. “These Charged Lemonades reach a new guest looking for an alternative to traditional energy drinks, and are great examples of our culinary principle, The Familiar, Made Fantastic. With the addition of Charged Lemonades, the Unlimited Sip Club has a distinctive portfolio of drinks that can satisfy all our guests.”

    Multiple quick-service chains have leveraged subscription programs in the past year to strengthen customer loyalty and elevate digital sales. For instance, in January, Taco Bell gave its entire system the Taco Lover's Pass, a $10 service that allows customers to get one free taco per day for 30 days. In addition, Sweetgreen earlier in the year piloted a "sweetpass," a subscription service in which users pay $10 to redeem a $3 discount once per day for 30 days. Other better-for-you concepts like Smoothie King and Clean Juice, have implemented their own programs, as well.