Panera Will Soon Allow Fans To Customize Their Loyalty Rewards

CNBC went on record in 2021 to predict a "war," but one without violence or indeed unpleasantries of any kind. What the outlet was actually predicting was a battle between competing quick-service and fast food chains to offer the best loyalty programs to their customers. Why? For starters, restaurant chains saw an enormous boost in digital ordering during the coronavirus pandemic — a 124% gain in a single year — and loyalty programs were perceived as one of the best ways to keep those gains. Essentially, these food chains were rewarding their customers for their continued online and mobile app patronage.

But as CNBC notes, there's also a belief that loyalty programs encourage more customer visits and more robust spending during these visits. From the customer's perspective, explains QSR Magazine, loyalty programs offer deals, discounts, and sometimes even free food and drink items at a time when inflationary price increases are continuing to make eating out more expensive. Simply put, customers appreciate the perks, and like being rewarded for their brand loyalty.

There's plenty of recent news that supports the idea that quick-service chains are taking loyalty programs seriously. Starbucks, for example, recently announced its new Odyssey program, featuring NFTs which can be earned, bought, sold, or redeemed for one-of-a-kind "journeys" and other cool experience-based rewards. Panera Bread, meanwhile — which like Starbucks has been an innovator in the loyalty program space — is also making news with a revamped loyalty program, according to a recent press release.

Panera upgrades MyPanera loyalty program

Panera is shifting the focus of its loyalty program, MyPanera, to offer members more personalized experiences that are directly tied in value to how often they visit, how much they spend, and what they like best, per the press release. As of October 6, when the program takes effect, loyalty program members will no longer simply qualify for predetermined rewards but instead will be able to choose from a variety of different options customized to their own predilections. This personalization mandate extends to the digital ordering menu and may also qualify loyalty members for preferential treatment in regard to new programs, offers, and menu items.

"We view our MyPanera loyalty program as an extension of the warmth we show to our guests in our bakery-cafes—for us, it's about creating meaningful relationships and delivering personalized value," notes Chief Brand and Concept Officer at Panera, Eduardo Luz. 

This new and improved loyalty program reflects the importance of MyPanera to the company's bottom line. During the first business quarter of 2022, MyPanera's 48 million members accounted for better than 50% of all purchases — and yes, they spent more on average than non-members, too. In addition to the program enhancements, MyPanera members (and new members who sign up) will benefit from a weeklong celebration of the loyalty program beginning on September 29, with each day of the week bringing new gifts, discounts, or free items.