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Panera reports success with its coffee subscription program

The unlimited coffee offering now has about three-quarters of a million subscribers, prompting the fast casual to launch a referral program to generate even more.
Photo courtesy of Panera Bread Co.

Despite its launch at the very outset of the coronavirus crisis, Panera Bread’s coffee subscription offering has been a hit, the chain revealed this week.

Some 750,000 people have now signed up for the $8.99-per-month unlimited coffee subscription, driving growth in digital engagement and, most importantly, providing a much-needed revenue boost during the pandemic.

To grow the program further, Panera on Wednesday announced the rollout of a refer-a-friend program. The Fellowship of Unlimited Coffee allows those in the coffee subscription program who sign up five or more people to receive free, unlimited coffee through the end of October. The new subscribers get free coffee, too.

The chain said the coffee subscription is helping grow its digital loyalty program, MyPanera, which now has more than 40 million members.

“Perhaps most importantly, subscription coffee is bringing on new customers to the Panera brand—gaining converts while much of the industry has simply kept customers,” the company said in a statement.

Last month, Panera announced that anyone who signed up for the coffee subscription by July 4th would receive free hot coffee, hot tea or iced coffee until Labor Day.

The subscription allows diners to get any size and any flavor of coffee once every two hours. The beverages can be ordered inside Panera units, or through the chain’s website or app.

Early tests of the program showed the coffee subscriptions boosted guest frequency by more than 200%, the company said. Food attachment to coffee orders grew by 70%.

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