Panera wins with “Pay what you can coffee”
I went to the Brooklyn Museum this past weekend, and it wasn’t until after I whipped out my $10 to pay for entry did it register that the guy at the front desk had said $10 was the “suggested” donation. Not the price – the donation – and suggested one at that.
It made me stop and think about the power of trusting people to do right. I like to think of myself as a good honest person…and I think the majority of people would say the same. So even though the museum and as you can read from the link, Panera Bread gives us the opportunity to get over on them by paying less than the service or product is worth, my self-narrative won’t let me. In fact, it almost makes me want to pay MORE, or at the very least, garners some brand loyalty. Why? Because they trusted me.
They put the decision in my hands to opine on the worth of their product instead of forcing me to pay what they thought. Now, this doesn’t and can’t work with every product. It’s surprising and really kind of cool that Panera has chosen to do it with a product that has clear profit margins and measurable added value. Usually it’s done with abstract ideas like the museum, or Radiohead’s music back in 2007.
I love this because the brand gives you a reason to remember them for more than their food. They tap into your own self-narrative and basically they’re asking you what you stand for and believe in – who you are when no one is watching. It’s something little, like coffee, but the impact will definitely make me choose Panera over a competitor when I’m in a random parking lot choosing between my fast food options.