Sweetgreen on Monday began the New Year with a new subscription pilot it’s calling “sweetpass.” The limited-time offer allows sweetpass purchasers to spend $10 to buy a sweetpass to earn a $3 credit (max one per day) on qualifying delivery, pickup, and “Outpost” digital purchases made on the sweetgreen app or order.sweetgreen.com for 30 days. 

Sweetpass, the company said, will make it easier for loyal and frequent customers to start 2022 by eating healthy and accessible food, and is part of sweetgreen’s ongoing strategy to change from a “one-size-fits-all digital experience into a customized experience for each sweetgreen customer, creating more value and connection.”

The pass will be available for purchase from January 3 through January 16. Passes will be valid for customers for 30 days after their sweetpass purchase, with the pilot program expiring on Tuesday, February 15. It’s not available on third-party delivery marketplaces, such as DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates or GrubHub.

“When thinking about how to roll out a loyalty program authentic to the brand, sweetgreen wanted to put the customer at the center and pivot from a ‘one-size-fits-all” approach into something that allows them to connect with customers every step of the way,” a company spokesperson said.

The chain was among the slew of brands that went public in 2021, raising $364 million in its IPO in late November. Before 2021, Muscle Maker Grill (2020) and Wingstop (2015) were the last two limited-service brands to do so. However, several (Portillo’s, Krispy Kreme, sweetgreen, and Dutch Bros) reached the stock market in a matter of months last year, and more are scheduled to break into that sphere in 2022, including Panera Brands. 

For 140-unit sweetgreen, the company originally said that it would offer 12.5 million shares at a share price range of $23 to $25, but that rose to 13 million shares and an IPO price of $28. Sweetgreen then opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $52 per share and reached a high of $56 per share, valuing the company at roughly $6 billion. It was trading for about $32 on Monday morning.

The brand began as a 560-square-foot restaurant in Washington, D.C., 14 years ago and operated 29 stores at the end of 2014. It then expanded to 119 within six years and wants to double its footprint in the next three to five years through new and existing markets, more digital capacity within restaurants, and new formats, such as drive-thru and pickup only. 

The “Outpost” program mentioned in the subscription deal is where the company sets up a new pickup location in its app and online. A venue gets a dedicated courier who delivers orders to the location at a set time(s) daily. Anyone ordering to an Outpost has the ability to fully customize their salad, bowl, or plate just as they would in one of sweetgreen’s restaurantsAll food is prepped and made from scratch.

Essentially, it’s a batch delivery program, with offices as one of the main targets.

Two years ago, Sweetgreen boasted average-unit volumes of $3 million and same-store sales increases of 15 percent, year-over-year. COVID lowered AUVs out of the gate to $2.2 million as comps plunged 26 percent compared to 2019.

Throughout 2021 business improved, with AUV reaching $2.5 million and comps rising 21 percent. The company earned $243 million in net revenue through September 26, after making only $221 million for all of 2020. However, the company experienced $87 million in operating loss through September, after losing $142 million in 2020. 

Digital sales mix 68 percent after accounting for 50 percent prior to COVID. Sweetgreen continues to invest heavily in off-premises, too, most notably through a recent purchase of Spyce, a Boston-based fast casual that uses a robotic kitchen to fulfill orders. The chain is in the process of determining where to introduce the automated technology, which prepares meals in three minutes or less. 

As the brand hit the public sector, it also introduced a new campaign around the idea of asking America to “rewrite the future of food.” The campaign showcased sweetgreen’s supply chain story that comes to life visually by juxtaposing images of farmers and ingredients with sweetgreen’s dishes. It launched in NYC across static billboards, as well as Chicago and Washington, DC. Concept and imagery for the new campaign was helmed by sweetgreen’s fully operational in-house creative agency.

Fast Casual, Marketing & Promotions, News, Sweetgreen