Credit: The Telegraph
Although still only a fraction of the size of it’s competitors on the high street, Pret a Manger is making significant inroads into the market for high quality fast food and drink on the high street. Sales in 2013 topped £510 million, and that is with just 289 UK stores (of which 187 are in London). Pret is outstripping Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero in terms of growth and market share, but what is it getting so right?
Origins in food, not drink.
Pret at it’s core is a fresh food and drink shop, with it’s sandwiches and lunchtimes offerings at the centre of it’s brand. Not only are these higher margin products, but also suit the ‘on-the-go’ customer much more. A large proportion of Pret’s customers are businesspeople wanting a quick lunch that they can guarantee is healthy (or at least perceived to be), fresh and relatively cheap. This is in comparison to Starbucks and Costa, who see coffee drinking as a much more luxurious experience where customers relax. This differentiation reflects they have found a profitable niche in the market.
Food offering at Pret A Manger. Credit: tripadvisor.com
Listening to customer demand better.
Little changes in recent times reflect that, rather than chasing profits, Pret a Manger are showing a real commitment to meeting customer needs. For example, free water taps have been introduced into many stores, stopping customers having to queue up, and also avoiding potential embarrassment of asking for free water from the counter. Although this may decrease sales in the short run, they are appreciated touches for consumers that build loyalty.
Similarly, Pret has begun to move beyond sandwiches to hot products such as ‘Mac N Cheese’, looking to offer the complete range of lunch and light dinner options. This is proving extremely effective at further generating sales by offering more choice.
The new Macaroni and Cheese offering. Credit: http://www.eattravellive.com
An area where Pret are making significant steps forward compared to their competitors is on the issue of sustainability. This extends from social enterprises, a recent talk by the CEO mentioning a new scheme aimed at benefitting the homeless, and environmental causes, such as a target for 80% of stores to have recycling facilities. Crucially, these goals are locally based, and therefore customers will see the impact Pret is having on their community. This is a powerful tool to benefit brand image.
In conclusion, Pret’s commitment to meeting customer desires and focus on fast food rather than coffee has allowed them to find a valuable niche in the market. In the future, they will look to expand this concept both geographically and in terms of of offering, and bid to compete with the likes of Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero.