Panera Monday announced #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER. Anyone signed up for the MyPanera+Coffee subscription will enjoy free, unlimited premium hot coffee, hot tea and iced coffee until Labor Day. Sign-ups started Monday, and will be open until July 4.
Guests can get any size, any flavor once every two hours with unlimited refills in the bakery-cafe. Panera’s drip and iced coffee offerings include two coffee blends—Light Roast and Dark Roast, freshly ground every day and made from 100 percent Arabica whole beans. Both coffee blends are available, along with Decaf and Hazelnut, as part of the coffee subscription program.
“We asked America if they wanted it, and the answer was a resounding yes—so we’re excited to kick off a summer of free, unlimited premium coffee for our guests through Labor Day,” says Eduardo Luz, chief brand & concept officer for Panera, who was recently brought in along with a host of other hires. “This is our way of sharing the famous Panera Warmth in a new way, as we may be all celebrating summer a little differently this year.”
Panera shook up the game for coffee and tea drinkers earlier in March when it launched the MyPanera+ unlimited coffee subscription, aimed at eliminating the price barrier for many coffee drinkers. Then, it cost $8.99. The chain said Monday it will pause renewal payments for current subscribers through Labor Day. For new sign-ups, there’s no cost through Labor Day.
Panera was the first national restaurant company to offer an unlimited subscription for high-quality hot drip coffee, iced coffee, and hot tea, it said in late February.
When the 2,200-unit first piloted its coffee subscription at 150 restaurants for more than three months, CEO Niren Chaudhary told QSR Panera saw frequency jump by more than 200 percent for customers after they signed up compared to before. It was trading a high-margin item for frequency.
Also, Panera witnessed a 70 percent increase in food attachment for subscribers, value that was in the “double-digits” from a product perspective.
Another alluring result was the fact close to 75 percent of coffee redemption occurred off-premises.
This last point could play into the current COVID-19 environment. Panera 2.0, the company’s technology label, includes, mobile ordering, Rapid Pick-Up, delivery—both in-house and through third-party, kiosks, and other rolling changes.
At the time, Panera’s loyalty program had 38 million members. Panera added it experienced a 25 percent increase in new MyPanera members asking for the deal during subscription testing. And a vast majority of those were new to the brand, meaning it drove light users into restaurants.
Lastly, Panera enjoyed a 90–95 percent renewal rate each month.
Today, guests can order coffee nationwide in Panera bakery-cafes, on Panera’s e-commerce site, and via the Panera app (delivery restrictions apply). Customers can also order coffee via Panera Curbside and contactless Delivery, as Panera continues to take steps to serve communities safely during the pandemic.
The launch is Panera’s first big COVID-19 push since its grocery service initiative was introduced in April. “Panera Grocery” went live on its app and website, offering pantry essentials for contactless delivery, Rapid Pick-Up, new “Drive Up,” and drive thru, as well as via contact-free delivery powered by Grubhub.
Additionally, the chain introduced Family Feast Value Meals that start at $23 for a “Soup Feast.” The Family Feast with Mac & Cookies runs $33 and serves four to six people.
Panera added hand sanitizer stands in all baker cafes put in Plexiglas drive-thru barriers.