Panera sweetens its coffee subscription with free drink offer

Guests will be allowed to redeem the offer once every two hours

Panera is trying to bring its coffee subscription back to life this summer by offering customers free drinks through Labor Day.

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Customers who sign up for a My Panera Coffee subscription prior to July 4 will be privy to any size hot drip coffee, iced coffee and hot tea when ordering at Panera bakery-cafes, online and via Panera app. Guests will be allowed to redeem the offer once every two hours with unlimited refills inside Panera cafes, the company said.

The MyPanera unlimited coffee subscription launched in March when restaurant operations were being upended all across the nation due to stay-at-home orders implemented to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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Last week the company asked its followers if they wanted "free unlimited premium all summer" as part of the company's #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER Twitter challenge.

If they received 500,000 votes for YES by 6/22, the company said it would deliver on its promise.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter responded and within three days the tweet garnered over 500,000 responses with 87.4 percent of users voting yes.

Following the offer, the company garnered over 50,000 new subscriptions.

"This is by far the single greatest increase in subscriptions we have seen in the history of Panera," said Panera Chief Brand and Concept Officer Eduardo Luz.

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For those already signed up, Panera promised to pause the renewal payments for current subscribers through Labor Day. The subscription service normally costs $8.99.

This comes alongside a slate of moves from Panera, which has shifted operations to cater to guests post-pandemic. Since the outbreak, the chain has initiated curbside pickup nationwide with geofencing technology to address the shift in customers' needs. In April, the company also began to sell groceries to meet the surge in demand for food, both online and in-store, created by the pandemic.

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