In late 2021, English restaurant chain (and one-true love of any backpacker in London) Pret A Manger announced they would be trialling their first loyalty program, Pret Perks. The new loyalty scheme, set to be rolled out in phases, will be offered to current ‘drink subscription’ customers through their digital accounts on the Pret app or via the website, with plans to extend it to all customers throughout 2022.
With rewards such as coffee, popcorn and vegan cookies, Pret Perk members will earn a star every time they shop in-store or upon each monthly subscription renewal, with rewards redeemable for up to 30 days after a customer collects 10 stars.
The Brand Transformation
The launch of Pret Perks is part of Pret A Manger’s focus on retention of customers through enhanced offerings and intention to attract more customers after sales plunged during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. Pret A Manger has latched on to this importance of customer engagement and making the brand a bigger part of their customer’s lives, with the launch of the ‘drinks subscription’ for customers who pay £20 for up to five beverages per day in September 2020, providing click-and-collect options, investing in app development and expanding into delivery through partnerships with Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat to service more areas in the UK. This brand transformation is set to take Pret A Manger’s brand to the next level.
Main competitors, including Starbucks, White Castle, Kripsy Kreme and Greats, have struggled to find the same level of success within the market as Pret A Manger has has differentiated itself in three key ways: through the breadth of menu, the level of customer service and the dedication to sustainability. The addition of a loyalty program is sure to ensure that members interact more frequently with the brand so they can claim awards at the end and can encourage more casual customers to become committed members.
Typically, a redemption period of 30 days would be too short for a customer to think about or actually use a reward, but as an on-the-go food vendor, any member could swing by and get a coffee or treat from Pret as part of their daily commute. As a low involvement purchase, there is no limit to how often or even what item could be chosen by a rewarded member, and it continues to incentivise customers to buy from Pret A Manger even more than they normally might.
In late 2021 Pret A Manger received thousands of complaints over its existing “drinks subscription service”, primarily around not all promised beverages being available as part of membership, such as smoothies. The regulator contacted the company to “reconsider reviewing ads for the subscription service” as they implied that it covers the entire range of products. Reports found that staff were unhappy with the extended timeframes of preparing some drinks and had an inverse impact on their financial bonuses if drinks weren’t served within a strict period. This staff morale has decreased under the stress of the “drinks subscription” and the increase in foot traffic and service requirements of Pret Perks may be additional challenges for the business.
Part of the loyalty program launch is the need to expand, and the chain has announced an aggressive expansion plan to open more than 200 stores in the UK in the next two years alone. This is increasingly important as demand is likely to grow and the brand needs to be able to cater to this development in the base, particularly in regional and suburban areas that aren’t as highly serviced as metropolitan areas.
It’s an interesting concept for a loyalty program and no doubt a response to the evolving ways customers have changed how they interact with the brand and products in recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand has bridged the gap from in-store consumption and on-the-go servicing, to an at home brand, launching bake-at-home croissant kits and beginning their digital transformation to allow customers to engage with the brand remotely.
Pret A Manger has long held a significant role in the lives of the British people and international tourists, and with Pret Perks, they are not only responding to the easing of restrictions, returning to office and opening up of the UK, but are investing in making the brand front and centre as the go-to destination for food and drink part of their daily lives. Given the already large customer base, it will be interesting to see if customers actually increase their repeat purchases due to the program or if it falls as flat as one of their dark chocolates and almost butter cookies.