The Innovation 50: Pret A Manger puts omni-channel marketing on the map

The Innovation 50: Pret A Manger puts omni-channel marketing on the map

Towards the end of 2021, things were looking up for Pret A Manger. Acting as a bellwether for our recovery from the pandemic, the high street food-on-the-go retailer posted sales on a par with pre-pandemic levels for the first time and the media saw it as clear evidence the nation was in recovery, illustrating just how important this brand has been to our working culture.

So does this show how effective the approach of delivering a consistent, personalised experience for customers across all channels and devices (omni-channel marketing) can be for?

Ben Walker, Co-Founder, Who Wot Why, believes it certainly does.

In nominating the company to The Innovation 50, Ben describes Pret as, “A brand that understands everything they do reflects their brand, not just their advertising. Although they do no real above the line that I’m aware of, I get a strong sense of their purpose, mostly through their in-store experience.”

The omni-channel marketing strategy and stronger focus on digital was part of a shift in Pret’s brand and communications strategy when it appointed VCCP in July 2021 as its first global creative agency.

This followed on from its decision in May 2020 to accelerate its strategy to reach a wider range of customers – forced by the pandemic – across all markets through a fundamental transformation of its business model. This involves establishing new trading channels to provide new revenue streams.

Innovating its way out of the pandemic, the ‘shops first’ strategy is being replaced with its first Pret coffee subscription service, as well as bringing a ‘Pret at Home’ range to market via retailers in the UK and France, not to mention its Veggie Pret offering.

Pret Perks – its new loyalty scheme – is also in trials with its coffee service subscribers being invited first, followed by a widening customer base through 2022.

So what makes its new omni-channel strategy so appealing to customers, and what will ensure it works as well as its original strategy?

Ben believes, “They communicate honestly through their packaging. I feel like I’m having a conversation with them when I buy a coffee or a sandwich because they write so well and so honestly. They always feel innovative through their products. The veggie pret is an outstanding and brave move. And the staff training clearly sets them apart.

“There’s a real buzz about the place even as I get my tea and croissant before my 7.33am to Leeds. Another brand that wears its heart on its sleeve and shows its passion for fresh fast food.”

Something that was echoed when the brand received high praise from the industry at the start of the pandemic, when CEO Pano Christou admitted the company had learned a lot about the new health and trading conditions – a sign of strength in being able to show its vulnerability.

Another worthy member joins The Innovation 50 list.