Subscriptions Are Sandwiches’ New Best Friend

When you hear about subscription services, you might think of magazines, music services, or streaming platforms like Twitch, which have gotten extremely popular over the past several years. Wherever your mind goes when you hear about subscriptions, you probably don’t start thinking about sandwiches.

Yet that’s exactly what a lot of people picture when they check the monthly subscriptions on their bank statements. It sounds strange; but whereas many delis, sub shops, and sandwich purveyors took to outdoor seating, curbside pickup options, and intensive cleaning solutions to garner back customers they lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic, other resellers have begun offering up monthly subscriptions for customers’ favorite sandwiches.

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What do these subscriptions do?

For as long as there’s been good food, there’s been a demand to enjoy those meals again and again. For some people, that means making a regular trip to their favorite restaurant or going down to the farmer’s market to buy ingredients each week. Others prefer the convenience and speed of having food delivered right to their door.

Delivery takes care of almost all the hassle. All the customer has to do is remember to refill their cart, then sit back and wait. Subscription services take this a step further by automatically ordering those deliveries again on a set, recurring schedule.

The concept of subscriptions isn’t new: They’ve been around as long as businesses have because companies love a customer who’s guaranteed to come back every single month. Subscriptions to certain consumables aren’t new, like teas or wines or canned and baked goods, but it’s still pretty novel to sell subscriptions for sandwiches.

Paris Baguette, South Korea’s biggest bakery operated by a Seoul-based production company called the SPC Group, recently started a subscription service meant to drum up demand. Customers can either buy a coffee or a combination of coffee and a sandwich for cheap, all offered off Paris Baguette’s specifically-designed subscription menu. Customers can buy at this discount once a day, every day while subscribed to the service, which is purchasable off the company’s app.

If the subscription service proves a success, the SPC Group may expand the services to other franchises under their jurisdiction and might even invent different subscription options so customers can better choose one that suits their needs.

Is this a new idea?

Although it seems like an innovative new solution—and it is, relative to the age of the foodservice industry in general—sandwich subscriptions have actually been around for a handful of years already. Some famous chains took up the practice awhile ago, as well as smaller brands who saw the value in it:

  • Panera Bread

Panera launched a coffee subscription service in February 2020 that was aimed at boosting sales for their sandwiches and other foods. For just $8.99 per month, customers can buy an unlimited amount of coffee every two hours, including hot drip, iced, and hot tea. The offer is open any time of day and for any size cup.

The promotion aims to increase overall breakfast sales and is also part of their loyalty program. Since implementation, Panera executives estimate that food sales have increased as much as 70% among subscribers.

  • Goldbelly Subscriptions

Instead of promoting other products to supplement sandwich sales, some brands are going directly to the source and selling monthly sandwich subscriptions. At Goldbelly, customers can get hand-selected sandwiches delivered for between $80-100 per month, depending on discounts and sales applied at the time of purchase. Each box serves between two to four people and is sourced from various, delicious sandwiches and sub shops to provide variety every time. Sandwich enthusiasts can try a wide range of meals from different sellers to expand their pallets and maybe even find a new favorite dish.

  • Amazing Clubs PB&J of the Month

Looking for a particular specialty sandwich or just want a specific kind delivered to you each month? There’s a service for that, too. For approximately $25 per month, Amazing Clubs will deliver gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from underrated, incredible sellers all over the world.

  • Cheese Posties

If PB&Js don’t cut it, you can get gourmet grilled cheeses delivered to your door with new and exciting combinations to try each time. Cheese Posties operated from 2015 until they shut down in 2018, proving that sandwich delivery isn’t a completely new concept. In the three years they kept in business, they sent out over 100,000 grilled cheeses to hungry customers all over the U.K. Cheese Posties bragged about being the first of its kind, and it just goes to show that there’s a subscription service perfect suited for every kind of sandwich lover.

Experimentation isn’t limited to subscriptions, though, as other brands give away free sandwiches with each meal or set up other creative deals, discounts and services to appeal to customers’ various sandwich-related needs. Based on the number of companies who have implemented services like these over the years, it’s clear that the idea is compelling and lucrative.

Regardless of their strategy, the idea clearly has merit: Arby’s quickly sold out of a sandwich-themed kit when they launched an exclusive, limited amount of subscriptions in January 2019. The box itself didn’t even have any food inside, just menu-inspired merchandise. Sandwiches sell.

So if these sandwich subscriptions have existed for years already, why are they gaining favor again right now?

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The unexpected benefits of subscriptions

Undoubtedly, subscriptions generate enough income to turn a profit for those providing the service. Otherwise, why would the brand offer such a good deal? However, these services actually have more merit than the monetary value that people first notice. There’s a myriad of ways subscriptions are beneficial for both the service provider and for the customer, too.

For businesses, subscriptions increase sales of that item as well as other foods on the menu. This is largely because a good deal brings customers back again and again, and they usually buy more than just a sandwich while they’re there; they might also purchase a drink, a bag of chips or another item off the menu. They’re also likely to bring a friend with them, another customer who will buy off the menu at full price.

Getting customers to return over and over also builds brand loyalty. This is exacerbated because subscriptions market to an all new demographic, thus guaranteeing increased loyalty with more people: Trends indicate that younger customers enjoy the ease of subscription services, so it’s a unique and effective way to engage younger generations and stay relevant enough to hold their attention—and their business.

Effectively marketing to younger demographics also increases the likelihood that they’ll post about their positive experiences on social media or convince their peers to subscribe as well, so it’s basically free promotion that feeds off itself. Consider making subscriptions easily available on a mobile app to further increase younger audiences’ engagement and foster their loyalty too.

What’s in it for customers? Simply put, subscriptions are low-effort. People are extremely busy in this day and age, and they’re inundated with advertisements, deals and offers from different service platforms every time they use their phone or access the internet. By subscribing to one service, customers can forget about shopping around, wasting hours every week going to the grocery store or preparing their own food, and comparing brands whenever they shop. As long as there’s money in the account, businesses handle the transactions and food preparation so that customers just have to wait for their favorite meals to come to them. Subscriptions include all the usual reasons that people prefer delivery overcooking, except they can forget about the payment process too.

Nowadays, it’s also important to emphasize the health and safety benefits that come with subscriptions. COVID-19 is still a real and serious issue in the U.S. and all over the world too. By setting up recurring deliveries, customers will skip the trips to the grocery store and increase how much they social distance and self-isolate, thus lowering their risk of catching or spreading the virus.

Now that it’s easy, convenient, and socially conscious to have your favorite subs delivered monthly to your door, why would anyone give that up?

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If you’re a customer looking for your next good food fix, you’re in luck: There are so many different subscription services to choose from that you’re guaranteed to find one that serves exactly what you want, when you want it, that also has the perfect variety of sandwiches to try out in your price range.

For any deli, sandwich, or sub shop seeking a creative new marketing technique or another avenue for bringing your services to a wider audience, break into subscription services. Universal love for sandwiches certainly isn’t going anywhere. Why not guarantee some loyal customers who crave your food? Subs are subs’ next big trend.

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