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Coffee Subscriptions Can Yield Double-Digit Transaction Growth for QSRs

Pret a Manger coffee

As more coffee shop chains try out beverage subscriptions to boost traffic, new data suggests that these programs can drive significant increases in customer frequency.

According to a recent report from Manchester, U.K. publication Mancunian Matters, citing data from the country’s National Office of Statistics, Pret a Manger stores in the city saw the number of transactions grow by 36% in the month following the launch of the Club Pret coffee subscription service. The program provides up to five free barista-made drinks a day for 30 pounds a month (or $40 a month in the U.S.).

The outlet noted findings that subscribers to the program make purchases from the coffee shop chain 28 times a month, on average, compared to the average non-subscribing customer, who transacts twice a month.

“Not only is Club Pret a key enabler of our growth as a business, but more importantly it brings great value to our customers, helping them to save even more from our menu,” Clare Clough, the coffee chain’s U.K. and Ireland managing director, told the publication.

Indeed, coffee subscriptions are gaining in popularity for café chains. Quicky growing New York-based coffee shop chain Blank Street Coffee, for instance, has gained 5,000 paid subscribers (and 4,000 more on the waitlist) since it launched its Blank Street Regulars program over the summer, according to CNBC, charging $8.99 or $17.99 a week for up to 14 free coffee or tea drinks, with the more expensive plan offering a wider array of options.

The chain’s co-founder Vinay Menda told the news outlet that he expects the program to grow to include 30% to 40% of the brand’s customers.

One of the largest players in the coffee shop subscription space is Panera Bread, which has its “Unlimited Sip Club” program, offering a free drink every two hours for $11.99 a month or $119.99 a year. The subscription has helped the brand convert casual or totally new customers to frequent purchasers.

“We expected our most loyal and frequent MyPanera members to join the program, but what’s really been interesting is the number of guests joining Unlimited Sip Club that are new to Panera,” Eduardo Luz, then chief brand and concept officer at Panera Bread, told PYMNTS in an interview last year. “Since the launch of Unlimited Sip Club, more than half of its members are new to our MyPanera loyalty program in general.”

Subscriptions can help restaurants reach those who are predisposed to become highly loyal customers, according to a PYMNTS Intelligence study from 2022. The report, which drew from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, revealed that 17% of consumers are “very” or “extremely” interested in being provided a restaurant subscription service.

Plus, 78% of restaurant subscribers and 73% of those interested in subscriptions reported being very or extremely loyal toward their preferred quick-service restaurants (QSRs), while only 41% of those uninterested in subscriptions said the same.

The success of programs like Club Pret, Blank Street Regulars, and Panera Bread’s Unlimited Sip Club demonstrates the potential for increased customer frequency and loyalty. As the demand for coffee subscriptions continues to rise, QSRs have an opportunity to tap into a growing market and cultivate a dedicated customer base.