Panera makes history with self-serve subscription

Panera beverages
Panera has a fountain beverage subscription plan.

Panera is taking the unlimited beverage subscription concept in a new direction.

The casual dining retailer is launching Unlimited Sip Club, a program it is calling the first-ever nationwide unlimited beverage subscription for all self-serve beverages. For $10.99 per month (plus tax), Panera is expanding its existing monthly coffee subscription plan to incorporate its entire assortment of self-serve beverages.

The assortment includes hot and iced coffee, hot and iced teas, lemonades, and Pepsi-Cola fountain beverages. Customers who sign up for the Unlimited Sip Club through Friday, May 6 will receive a free subscription through Monday, July 4.

Unlimited Sip Club is available to members of the MyPanera free loyalty program. MyPanera members can register for the subscription via the Panera website, mobile app, and in-store kiosk.  In total, 26 beverages are offered as part of Unlimited Sip Club.

Building on an existing subscription offering

Panera initially introduced what it calls the first unlimited monthly coffee subscription plan offered by a national restaurant chain in February 2020. Customers can receive unlimited hot drip coffee, iced coffee and hot tea for $8.99 per month. The subscription plan includes one cup of drip hot coffee, hot tea, or iced coffee every two hours during regular store hours, including free refills of the same beverage at participating U.S. locations.

[Read more: Panera in industry-first with coffee subscription]

At the time Panera launched its unlimited monthly coffee subscription plan, Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, discussed some of the benefits provided by this type of program.

"By offering unlimited coffee and tea for a monthly fee, customers will start to see savings after only a few cups - a huge leg up against competitor menus that cost the same amount (or more) every single week," commented Caporaso. "Even better, the subscription will encourage more frequent stops at Panera restaurants, with a higher likelihood that enrollees will try a breakfast or lunch item to pair with their daily coffee reward. Over time, it will rake in an abundance of helpful customer data, allowing the brand to uncover exactly what customers like the most. Because of these insights, Panera will be able to tailor its next loyalty program updates based on real customer feedback, strengthening current and future loyalty in the process."

“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," said Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread. "Our guests have loved the subscription model and the convenience and value it brings to their daily lives. We're excited to give our customers even more choice and more beverage options to fuel their day."

"PepsiCo is excited to partner with Panera to reshape the way beverages are served with The Unlimited Sip Club," said Scott Finlow, global chief marketing officer foodservice, PepsiCo. "We are continuously innovating our portfolio of beverages to meet the complex and ever-evolving needs of consumers and this first-of-its-kind subscription program provides Panera customers with beverage options for every occasion throughout the day."

Panera self-serve beverages are available nationwide in Panera stores, on Panera's e-commerce site, and via the Panera app. The new Unlimited Sip Club subscription is available for $10.99 per month plus tax and includes one self-serve beverage every two hours during regular bakery-cafe hours, including free refills at participating U.S. Panera Bread stores.

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