Pret A Manger will enhance the personalisation and targeting of its loyalty scheme Pret Perks as it refines the proposition later this year.

Speaking at MCA’s Hostech, global chief digital officer Sarah Venning explained how Pret Perks was soft launched in December 2021 initially as a very simple customer experience.

The next phase, which builds on the success of Pret’s coffee subscription, will see the programme introduce more enhanced personalisation, targeted promotion to add and retain subscribers, and deeper alignment with Pret’s brand values.

The staggered approach was taken after Pret teams were overwhelmed with demand for the coffee subscription, an initiative that was turned round in just seven weeks.

“It was important that we did a soft launch so that our team could get really confident with the programme and also so we could finesse the customer proposition before we put a big bang marketing behind it,” Venning told Hostech.

“We’re going to be marketing Pret Perks much more actively from this summer onwards.”

Currently, eligible purchases earn a star, and 10 stars give customers a tailored reward

“It’s personalised, a bit surprising, nice and simple,” she said.

The next phase will see a more granular approach.

“When we’re separating our customers into cohorts, if we’re seeing customers who consistently shop new categories, then we can serve up a reward of something new on our menu, so really giving them something they value.”

Pret will take a more targeted approach to promotion, both the acquisition of new coffee subscribers, and the retention of new customers, “in a much more focused way than the big bang one size fits all approach that we’ve taken in the first 18 months of the coffee subscription.”

The third area will see a “deeper alignment with Pret brand pillars”.

“With digital we’ve wanted to go very simple first to make sure that all our digital propositions are streamlined, straightforward, and don’t do anything overly fancy. We want to make them a bit more joyful now, as well as put a bit of the charm and the playfulness of the brand, without messing up any of the clean flows of the customer journey.”

This will see a closer connection with the Pret Foundation, enabling customers to potentially donate; as well as tying Pret’s ESG strategy more closely with digital, to enable customers to make more sustainable menu choices.

Radical overhaul

Setting out the background to the scheme, Venning acknowledged Pret had been slow to adapt to the digital world, due to 30 years of successful growth of its bricks and mortar shop business.

“We’ve always relied on people coming to Pret, that has always been our approach to create beautiful shops and great locations that people will come to. We realised that that was potentially a little bit arrogant, and we needed to step out and take Pret to wherever customers wanted to come and engage with us.”

While work had begun to digitise the brand pre-pandemic, these plans were fast-tracked when Covid struck, forcing Pret to “radically reinvent ourselves as a business”.

“What had been a very important, highly motivating strategic workstream on a big transformation programme suddenly became a survival imperative,” she said.

The scheme was an evolution of the brand’s Joy of Pret initiative, which empowers staff to give customers a free treat at their own discretion.

However, despite offering “little moments of magic” there is no digital record, data or targeting behind the random giveaways, a problem the new digital scheme seeks to address.

Perks is also an expansion of Pret’s coffee subscription, which she described as a “massive game changer” and a “knockout success”.

The coffee subscription was partly inspired by Pret’s sister company, Panera in the US, which had a similar scheme.

Venning told how it went from a “light bulb moment to national rollout in seven weeks”.

“Frankly, we lashed the back end together like nobody’s business, because we didn’t know whether it was going to be an amazing success or a fiasco,” she said.

“But we made sure that there was a beautiful customer experience, we knew it needed to be good enough to be a proper Pret experience.”

Having been proven a success, “smashing every metric”, the subscription was been made into a global scalable product.

As well as offering a core value proposition that drives loyalty to customers, the coffee subscription also drives higher engagement, she said.

Coffee subscribers engage with Pret more, by redeeming their coffees, by making additional purchases, and by coming in on different occasions and dayparts, building a richer picture of consumer behaviour, and creating “a virtuous circle”.