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Assignment #1: Marketing Plan – Panera Bread
Panera Bread is planning to initiate a new strategy to appeal to its customers by utilizing technology to personalize their customers’ experience and increase relevance in a competitive market. Panera is a successful leader in the market of fast, casual dining experiences because of its emphasis on offering clean foods and a customer loyalty program that contributes to a personalized dining experience that builds loyalty for their brand and delivers value to the customer (Solis, 2018). Panera is seeking to target younger consumer segments by tapping into the growing digital age population’s interests and customizing menu options to make their food menu items more relevant to this targeted segment. The primary source of customer data is through the customer loyalty membership program, and Panera’s objective is to utilize this data to drive the offerings of new menu items and choices based on what customers want and how they order (Solis, 2018). A primary objective for Panera is to connect customers with a more personalized dining experience to increase the value of Panera’s product offerings and to increase customer loyalty.
In 2015, Panera Bread launched a campaign for clean eating, and adopted the slogan, “food as it should be,” and worked toward the goal of 100% clean foods to its completion in 2017 (Panerabread.com). Panera has set itself apart from its competitors by offering transparency into the ingredients used in its food selections at a competitive price. With more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada in the competitive and mature market of fast, casual dining experiences, Panera Bread is seeking new ways to engage targeted consumers with mobile and digital technology for continued differentiation of their food menu items and the overall dining experience (Panerabread.com, 2019). There is strong competition in the market, and Panera Bread must continue to seek ways to increase their market share by considering ways to attract new target segments to try their products and to continue to keep loyalty to their brand from existing customers.
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Market Summary: Panera Bread’s market is comprised of consumers who want a fast, casual, budget friendly dining experience without compromising on the quality of healthy ingredients. Convenience and fast order delivery are important to their customers, but so is the knowledge that what they are eating is healthy. A specific segment that Panera intends to target is younger consumers, who are more digitally and mobile-focused (Solis, 2018). While Panera will continue to offer a 100% clean menu, by targeting the younger consumer, Panera hopes to gather more data about its customers in order to provide a more personalized experience through social media channels, and by customizing the communications it has with its customers, so that they feel more personally connected to their dining experience with Panera, which can contribute to increasing customer loyalty (Solis, 2018).
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis:
- Technology use – Panera has invested in technology such as in-store ordering kiosks for self service ordering in the front of the store; they also have a mobile app with extensive features, including order-ahead and delivery services.
- Clean ingredients – 100% clean eating and the “food as it should be” slogan have become synonymous with their brand and an expectation of Panera’s customers (panerabread.com, 2019).
- Customer-centric values – Panera is known for its email advertising that is customized to its customers with products and offerings tailored to the individual customer. The loyalty rewards program has a very high participation rate, offering valuable incentives to customers (McCoy, 2018).
- Dough suppliers – Since this is a key ingredient that is used throughout Panera’s menu items, this could be a weakness if there was an issue with a dough supplier since it could negatively impact their business (Bhasin, 2018).
- Slowed expansion of new locations – The opening of new locations has decreased from 133 in 2013 to 105 in 2015, which could be a sign of slowed business (Bhasin, 2018).
- Customer evolution – Customers are changing and Panera intends to evolve with these changes by tracking their customer data and using it to analyze what customers want so they can adapt quickly to customer preferences.
- International expansion – Currently Panera is successful in the U.S. and Canada, and with the taste for Western foods expanding in international countries, Panera could have opportunity to expand globally (Bhasin, 2018).
- Competition – Other competitors in the market are also offering more healthy menu choices and clean eating options in a similar price range.
- Food borne illness – Several restaurants struggled with contamination of romaine lettuce in the last couple of years, which hurts profits and undermines consumer confidence.
Competition: Some of Panera’s primary competitors are: Chipotle (according to google.com has 2,250 locations, and is known for Mexican food options with healthy ingredients), Starbucks (according to google.com has 29,324 locations, and sells regular and fancy coffee and tea drinks as well as sandwiches, snacks, and sweet bakery treats), and smaller competitors such as Cosi (according to google.com has 66 locations, and is known for its homemade flatbread, coffee, and salads). Despite strong competition in the market, Panera can differentiate its products and menu from its competitors by taking a customer-centric and technology-focused approach in its strategies to appeal to the targeted segments.
Panera intends to increase its relevance to the targeted segment by doing the following:
- Personalizing the customer’s dining experience with customizable menu items.
- Disclosing whole grain ingredient information for transparency (Trezza, 2018).
- Catering to paleo, ketogenic, and whole30 food diet trends (Solis, 2018).
Distribution: Panera will distribute the product and service offerings from above throughout their U.S. and Canada locations, their mobile app, email marketing to customers, loyalty program membership, and social media postings.
Objectives: Panera is striving to achieve the objectives of transparency of whole grain bread ingredients disclosure and catering to dietary trends with the launch of new menu items to increase their profits from the previous year.
Target Market: Panera will achieve their strategy by differentiating their products with the target segments of younger consumers and repeat business from existing customers.
Positioning: By differentiating their products, Panera intends to increase their relevance to the target segments by personalizing their experience and allowing for customizable options on their menus as well as providing incentives for repeat customer through loyalty program rewards.
Product: Panera will offer new menu options that cater to diet trends such as whole30, paleo, and keto diets (Solis, 2018).
Pricing: Pricing will follow the structure of current menu options, with an eye toward maintaining affordability for existing customers and to attract new younger customers, who may have limited budgets.
Distribution & Marketing Communications: Distributing chain-wide, the menus in the restaurants will clearly label new food menu options, and digital and mobile marketing will go out to customers to promote the availability of these new menu options (Solis, 2018).
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Marketing Research: Using marketing data and research, Panera will be able to analyze and track what is wanted and valued by the target segments in terms of the new product offerings. Much of that research can be conducted from the loyalty rewards program membership. Panera has a very high level of customer membership in its rewards program at over 50% (Solis, 2018). The data collected when customers enter or swipe their rewards card is essential to tracking customer preferences so that Panera can cater its products and dining services to provide value to its customers on an evolving basis, as customer needs change. Additionally, interpretation and analysis of market research data feed into the continual design of communications and marketing content to increase relevance to the target segments (Solis, 2018). Comparisons of customer behaviors both prior to the launch of new product offerings ad subsequent to that launch will also provide feedback as to how Panera might need to tweak or change its marketing to adjust to customer preferences.
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