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Assessing Panera's Revamped Menu for 2024: A New Era or Misstep?

Assessing Panera's Revamped Menu for 2024: A New Era or Misstep?

TLDR

As you browse Panera's revamped menu launching this April, consider how implementing similar changes could benefit your bakery-cafe. With over 20 updates including new sandwiches, salads, and tweaked classics, Panera aims to draw in more customers by promising more meat, lower prices, and new flavors. While rapid change brings risks, a strategic refresh of your menu can excite existing customers and attract new faces. Use Panera's overhaul as inspiration to add a few new items, update portions, or adjust pricing. Small tweaks paired with savvy marketing may be all you need to drive traffic and increase profit. Our analysis helps bakery-café owners determine if a menu revamp presents an opportunity or risk.

Panera Bread's Major Menu Overhaul: Assessing the Changes

Panera Bread’s revamped menu launching in April 2024 brings significant changes that bakery-café owners should assess to determine if emulating certain updates may benefit their business.

Lower Prices and Larger Portions

Panera’s new menu lowers prices for many items and increases portion sizes, especially for proteins. Owners could consider selectively lowering prices or modestly increasing portions for some items may attract more customers, especially budget-conscious ones. However, owners must evaluate how significantly altering prices or portions may impact costs and profits before making major changes.

New and Updated Menu Options

Owners should carefully assess new options that align with their concept. While innovation can attract new customers, it's crucial to maintain a balance to avoid alienating loyal ones. Panera's menu update, for example, enhances core offerings like soups, salads, sandwiches, and mac and cheese with a focus on more meat per bite and new ingredients.

Focus on Fresh, High-Quality Ingredients

Panera continues focusing on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Owners should ensure they also emphasize fresh, artisanal ingredients and food preparation techniques. Highlighting the use of locally sourced, organic, or all-natural ingredients and handcrafted recipes or baking techniques helps convey a dedication to quality that many customers seek.

Will Panera's New Menu Usher in a "New Era" or Backfire?

Panera Bread’s announcement promises more options under $10 and “more meat per bite,” but will these changes usher in a new era of success or backfire? For small bakery-cafes looking to update their menus, Panera’s changes provide both inspiration and caution.

Revamped Classics May Alienate Loyal Customers

While Panera aims to draw in new customers with trendy new items like the Toasted Italiano sandwich, updating menu classics risks alienating loyal long-time customers who expect consistency. Bakery cafes should survey customers before significantly changing popular items to avoid drops in revenue from disappointed regulars.

New Salads Meet Growing Demand for Healthy Options

Panera’s four new salads, including the Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains, tap into increasing demand for healthy, affordable menu choices. Salads and grain bowls have become more popular, especially with younger consumers concerned about nutrition, sustainability, and the environment. Bakery cafes looking to attract health-conscious customers should consider adding salads, grains, and plant-based options.

Low Price Points Critical for Success

With new sandwiches and salads mostly under $10, Panera makes its menu more affordable and appealing to budget-conscious diners. In a difficult economy, price is a key factor for customers choosing where to eat. Bakery cafes must evaluate prices to ensure they remain competitive. While using fresh, high-quality ingredients is important, keeping menu prices affordable is critical to success.

What the Menu Revamp Means for Customers

Updates Focus on Customer Experience

Panera’s menu overhaul signifies its renewed commitment to enhancing the customer experience. By improving its core offerings and introducing innovative new options, Panera aims to better satisfy existing customers and attract new ones. The menu updates suggest Panera has been listening to customer feedback and adjusting accordingly.

Higher Quality, Larger Portions

Customers can expect higher-quality ingredients, more protein, and larger portion sizes with the revamped menu. Panera has pledged ‘more meat per bite’ in their new sandwiches and salads. Four new salads provide health-conscious customers with more nutritious choices. Larger portion sizes address customers’ desire for greater value and satisfaction from their meals.

Reasonable Prices

While improving quality and portion sizes, Panera has kept prices affordable. The bakery-cafe is known for providing good value, and the new menu aims to maintain that perception. Keeping prices stable during a time of inflation and economic uncertainty may attract budget-conscious customers seeking reasonably priced, high-quality meals.

Familiar Favorites Remain

Despite the many changes, Panera has retained some of its most popular menu items. Customers can still enjoy 12 classic items like the Bravo Club Sandwich, Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, and soups. Keeping these familiar favorites reassures loyal customers that Panera still honors its traditions and core identity. At the same time, the tweaks to classic items demonstrate Panera’s willingness to make incremental improvements based on customer feedback.

The menu revamp signals Panera’s customer-centric approach and desire to keep improving the dining experience while introducing exciting new options. 

How Small Bakery-Cafes Can Take Notes From Panera

Panera Bread's menu transformation signifies a new era for the company and provides valuable lessons for small bakery-cafes seeking growth. 

Streamline the Menu

Rather than trying to be all things to all people with an overly extensive menu, bakery-cafes should streamline their offerings to a few high-quality items. Panera’s new menu focuses on simplicity by limiting additions to just 9 new items and tweaking 12 classics. A curated menu of fresh soups, salads, sandwiches and pastries allows staff to focus on execution and quality. It also makes the decision process easier for customers.

Focus on Value and Portion Control

Panera aims to provide good value to customers with lower-cost options and more reasonable portion sizes. Smaller bakery-cafes should evaluate their menu to ensure a range of price points and appropriate portion sizes. Adding more items below $10 and revisiting portion sizes to avoid excess waste are easy ways to address value and portion control. Providing satisfying portions without over-serving is an approach that benefits both the business and the customer.

Evolve With Trends

To stay relevant, bakery-cafes must keep up with trends in the food and beverage industry. Panera’s example addresses current interests in fresh, high-quality ingredients, value, and wellness. Evaluating menu items, recipes, and presentations to reflect trends in flavor profiles, cuisine types, and dietary preferences will keep customers engaged. Making minor tweaks to the menu regularly, as Panera has done, allows bakery-cafes to evolve gradually with trends rather than requiring an overhaul. Staying on the cutting edge of trends is key to long-term success.

Explore our blog to learn tips on making your menu launch a success. 

Expand Through Franchising

To spur continued growth, Panera acquired smaller bakery-cafes and opened new company-owned and franchised locations. Franchising is an effective way for small bakery-cafes to expand their geographic reach and gain more customers while diversifying revenue streams. However, franchising requires having standardized operations and training procedures in place to ensure brand consistency across locations. For small bakery-cafes, franchising may be better suited once initial success has been achieved and operations have stabilized.

FAQs: Evaluating Panera Bread's Menu Transformation

What are the main benefits for Panera?

Updating their menu allows Panera to stay competitive in the fast-casual dining space. By improving some of their customer favorites and adding new, crave-able items, Panera can boost sales and traffic. The menu changes also allow Panera to improve operational efficiency in their kitchens. However, significantly altering a menu also presents risks, like customer confusion or frustration over discontinued items. Panera will need to communicate the changes to customers to mitigate potential backlash.

How should competitors respond?

Other fast-casual chains should take note of Panera’s menu overhaul. Competitors may want to evaluate their menus to ensure they are keeping up with trends and customer demands. They could test adding similar items to attract customers seeking Panera’s new options. However, competitors should avoid directly copying Panera’s revamped menu, as that may seem unoriginal to customers. The best approach is for competitors to focus on their brand positioning and key strengths.

@snachwithzach Panera announced big changes coming to its menu in April in what the brand says is the biggest overhaul it’s ever done. The updates at nine completely new items and make some enhancements and tweaks to some existing classics. All this comes after we talked about potential menu cuts several months ago, but these updates look solid. #panera#foodtok#fastfood#restaurant#panerabread#lunch#bread#bakery#fyp ♬ That Couch Potato Again - Prod. By Rose

Final Thoughts

While rapid change can overwhelm customers initially, Panera’s sweeping menu updates highlight that constant evolution is crucial for restaurants to stay relevant. Local bakery-cafés should view Panera’s 2024 menu engineering strategy as inspiration to regularly refresh their offerings. By constantly improving your menu, you show customers you are attuned to their evolving preferences. While Panera’s updates bring risks, the rewards of satisfying patrons with exciting new choices are well worth it.

Assessing Panera's Revamped Menu for 2024: A New Era or Misstep?

Assessing Panera's Revamped Menu for 2024: A New Era or Misstep?
by
Soma Amir
by
Doron Segal
by
Tomer Molovinsky
by
Olivia Terenzio
by
Jessica Buckley
by
Ashley Rodriguez
March 17, 2023

TLDR

As you browse Panera's revamped menu launching this April, consider how implementing similar changes could benefit your bakery-cafe. With over 20 updates including new sandwiches, salads, and tweaked classics, Panera aims to draw in more customers by promising more meat, lower prices, and new flavors. While rapid change brings risks, a strategic refresh of your menu can excite existing customers and attract new faces. Use Panera's overhaul as inspiration to add a few new items, update portions, or adjust pricing. Small tweaks paired with savvy marketing may be all you need to drive traffic and increase profit. Our analysis helps bakery-café owners determine if a menu revamp presents an opportunity or risk.

Panera Bread's Major Menu Overhaul: Assessing the Changes

Panera Bread’s revamped menu launching in April 2024 brings significant changes that bakery-café owners should assess to determine if emulating certain updates may benefit their business.

Lower Prices and Larger Portions

Panera’s new menu lowers prices for many items and increases portion sizes, especially for proteins. Owners could consider selectively lowering prices or modestly increasing portions for some items may attract more customers, especially budget-conscious ones. However, owners must evaluate how significantly altering prices or portions may impact costs and profits before making major changes.

New and Updated Menu Options

Owners should carefully assess new options that align with their concept. While innovation can attract new customers, it's crucial to maintain a balance to avoid alienating loyal ones. Panera's menu update, for example, enhances core offerings like soups, salads, sandwiches, and mac and cheese with a focus on more meat per bite and new ingredients.

Focus on Fresh, High-Quality Ingredients

Panera continues focusing on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Owners should ensure they also emphasize fresh, artisanal ingredients and food preparation techniques. Highlighting the use of locally sourced, organic, or all-natural ingredients and handcrafted recipes or baking techniques helps convey a dedication to quality that many customers seek.

Will Panera's New Menu Usher in a "New Era" or Backfire?

Panera Bread’s announcement promises more options under $10 and “more meat per bite,” but will these changes usher in a new era of success or backfire? For small bakery-cafes looking to update their menus, Panera’s changes provide both inspiration and caution.

Revamped Classics May Alienate Loyal Customers

While Panera aims to draw in new customers with trendy new items like the Toasted Italiano sandwich, updating menu classics risks alienating loyal long-time customers who expect consistency. Bakery cafes should survey customers before significantly changing popular items to avoid drops in revenue from disappointed regulars.

New Salads Meet Growing Demand for Healthy Options

Panera’s four new salads, including the Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains, tap into increasing demand for healthy, affordable menu choices. Salads and grain bowls have become more popular, especially with younger consumers concerned about nutrition, sustainability, and the environment. Bakery cafes looking to attract health-conscious customers should consider adding salads, grains, and plant-based options.

Low Price Points Critical for Success

With new sandwiches and salads mostly under $10, Panera makes its menu more affordable and appealing to budget-conscious diners. In a difficult economy, price is a key factor for customers choosing where to eat. Bakery cafes must evaluate prices to ensure they remain competitive. While using fresh, high-quality ingredients is important, keeping menu prices affordable is critical to success.

What the Menu Revamp Means for Customers

Updates Focus on Customer Experience

Panera’s menu overhaul signifies its renewed commitment to enhancing the customer experience. By improving its core offerings and introducing innovative new options, Panera aims to better satisfy existing customers and attract new ones. The menu updates suggest Panera has been listening to customer feedback and adjusting accordingly.

Higher Quality, Larger Portions

Customers can expect higher-quality ingredients, more protein, and larger portion sizes with the revamped menu. Panera has pledged ‘more meat per bite’ in their new sandwiches and salads. Four new salads provide health-conscious customers with more nutritious choices. Larger portion sizes address customers’ desire for greater value and satisfaction from their meals.

Reasonable Prices

While improving quality and portion sizes, Panera has kept prices affordable. The bakery-cafe is known for providing good value, and the new menu aims to maintain that perception. Keeping prices stable during a time of inflation and economic uncertainty may attract budget-conscious customers seeking reasonably priced, high-quality meals.

Familiar Favorites Remain

Despite the many changes, Panera has retained some of its most popular menu items. Customers can still enjoy 12 classic items like the Bravo Club Sandwich, Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, and soups. Keeping these familiar favorites reassures loyal customers that Panera still honors its traditions and core identity. At the same time, the tweaks to classic items demonstrate Panera’s willingness to make incremental improvements based on customer feedback.

The menu revamp signals Panera’s customer-centric approach and desire to keep improving the dining experience while introducing exciting new options. 

How Small Bakery-Cafes Can Take Notes From Panera

Panera Bread's menu transformation signifies a new era for the company and provides valuable lessons for small bakery-cafes seeking growth. 

Streamline the Menu

Rather than trying to be all things to all people with an overly extensive menu, bakery-cafes should streamline their offerings to a few high-quality items. Panera’s new menu focuses on simplicity by limiting additions to just 9 new items and tweaking 12 classics. A curated menu of fresh soups, salads, sandwiches and pastries allows staff to focus on execution and quality. It also makes the decision process easier for customers.

Focus on Value and Portion Control

Panera aims to provide good value to customers with lower-cost options and more reasonable portion sizes. Smaller bakery-cafes should evaluate their menu to ensure a range of price points and appropriate portion sizes. Adding more items below $10 and revisiting portion sizes to avoid excess waste are easy ways to address value and portion control. Providing satisfying portions without over-serving is an approach that benefits both the business and the customer.

Evolve With Trends

To stay relevant, bakery-cafes must keep up with trends in the food and beverage industry. Panera’s example addresses current interests in fresh, high-quality ingredients, value, and wellness. Evaluating menu items, recipes, and presentations to reflect trends in flavor profiles, cuisine types, and dietary preferences will keep customers engaged. Making minor tweaks to the menu regularly, as Panera has done, allows bakery-cafes to evolve gradually with trends rather than requiring an overhaul. Staying on the cutting edge of trends is key to long-term success.

Explore our blog to learn tips on making your menu launch a success. 

Expand Through Franchising

To spur continued growth, Panera acquired smaller bakery-cafes and opened new company-owned and franchised locations. Franchising is an effective way for small bakery-cafes to expand their geographic reach and gain more customers while diversifying revenue streams. However, franchising requires having standardized operations and training procedures in place to ensure brand consistency across locations. For small bakery-cafes, franchising may be better suited once initial success has been achieved and operations have stabilized.

FAQs: Evaluating Panera Bread's Menu Transformation

What are the main benefits for Panera?

Updating their menu allows Panera to stay competitive in the fast-casual dining space. By improving some of their customer favorites and adding new, crave-able items, Panera can boost sales and traffic. The menu changes also allow Panera to improve operational efficiency in their kitchens. However, significantly altering a menu also presents risks, like customer confusion or frustration over discontinued items. Panera will need to communicate the changes to customers to mitigate potential backlash.

How should competitors respond?

Other fast-casual chains should take note of Panera’s menu overhaul. Competitors may want to evaluate their menus to ensure they are keeping up with trends and customer demands. They could test adding similar items to attract customers seeking Panera’s new options. However, competitors should avoid directly copying Panera’s revamped menu, as that may seem unoriginal to customers. The best approach is for competitors to focus on their brand positioning and key strengths.

@snachwithzach Panera announced big changes coming to its menu in April in what the brand says is the biggest overhaul it’s ever done. The updates at nine completely new items and make some enhancements and tweaks to some existing classics. All this comes after we talked about potential menu cuts several months ago, but these updates look solid. #panera#foodtok#fastfood#restaurant#panerabread#lunch#bread#bakery#fyp ♬ That Couch Potato Again - Prod. By Rose

Final Thoughts

While rapid change can overwhelm customers initially, Panera’s sweeping menu updates highlight that constant evolution is crucial for restaurants to stay relevant. Local bakery-cafés should view Panera’s 2024 menu engineering strategy as inspiration to regularly refresh their offerings. By constantly improving your menu, you show customers you are attuned to their evolving preferences. While Panera’s updates bring risks, the rewards of satisfying patrons with exciting new choices are well worth it.

Soma Amir

About the author

Doron Segal

About the author

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky

About the author

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Olivia Terenzio

About the author

Jessica Buckley

About the author

Ashley Rodriguez

About the author

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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