It feels years, not months, since Panera Bread unveiled one of 2020’s buzziest deals in late February. The 2,200-unit chain announced customers could subscribe to unlimited coffee and tea, iced or hot. Any size, for $8.99.
It was an effort other restaurant chains pursued in the past, like Burger King and its $5 program, but to uneven results. Panera thought it could break through, however, for two clear reasons: It cut the strings off the promotion, like size and product restraints. And notably, touted an ecommerce platform robust enough to handle demand along with omnichannel outlets for guests to find it, like Rapid Pick-Up, drive thru, delivery, and on-premise.
Also, Panera reports some 40 million members in its loyalty program, roughly double that of Starbucks.