When a few years ago e-commerce was looking for ways to connect with consumers, so it launched itself to test new formats of connection with the audience. The key was to convince consumers of their potential, lead them to try products and retain a recurring purchase.
It was when the subscription boxes appeared, that they had a moment of great boom and that seemed the solution to all those problems. The boxes were linked to products that function as objects of desire and had their claim on them. In fact, its great moment began with those of beauty and cosmetic products. Subscription boxes flourished and had their moment of hype. Then things have calmed down, although the model has been maintained and has been embedded in other industries.
The boxes, in fact, still exist. It is inevitable to think of those subscription boxes when you think about the latest movement in retail: their latest marketing trick is, precisely, the subscription model. The large cafeteria and fast food chains are beginning a commitment to the model, which could expand beyond those pioneers (for those who are testing it, it is working) and become the way to recover traffic and loyalty among consumers. Fast food chain Taco-Bell is the latest to launch a subscription model.
Taco Bell has launched a subscription to Tacos. For $ 5 to $ 10 a month, users – who have to sign up for the app – can get a free cue a day. For now, it is only in testing at specific locations in Arizona. Before this chain, Panera opened MyPanera +, also in the United States, which works as a subscription service to coffee and tea for a monthly fee.
Panera launched it just before the coronavirus crisis, in February, but despite this (and despite the stoppage in office user traffic) it has already managed to exceed 500,000 subscribers. The cost is $ 8.99 per month, which makes up for if you think a coffee is going to be $ 5. The idea is the same as applied by Pret a Manger in the UK, with its YourPret Barista. The price is much higher (£ 20 per month) but allows access to more drinks per day and more types of drinks.
Everything is marketing
Why are you launching these types of products? The answer is not in the profitability of the product (it is not), but in what it has associated, as they point out in an analysis in Modern Retail, where they recall that even Burger King has even tried a flat coffee fee ($ 5 per month) to boost your breakfast menu.
Unlike what happened with e-commerce subscription boxes, where the subscription was the business, in those of the restaurant chains, the subscription is not the business. It’s a marketing coup. With the subscription models, these chains ensure that they will keep those consumers (you are not going to buy the coffee at Starbucks if they have it ‘free’ at the Pret) and with them a constant traffic to their points of sale.
Given that these companies are highly dependent on buyer traffic and have been hit hard by the drop in movements during the coronavirus crisis (and especially by office closures and the disappearance of that market), they need to have a kind of guarantee. that these potential consumers will approach them. In addition, and no matter how much they lose in the coffee or taco of the program, they recover it in derived sales.
The subscription is the hook for them to go, see and take many other products with them. In a way, these programs are a kind of evolution of loyalty cards, but using another lever and speaking to consumers in the language of the age of subscriptions. To this is added that, as with traditional loyalty programs, they continue to provide data and more data on what really interests consumers.