Pret’s Veggie Pop-Up
Back in April when UK favourite Pret a Manger announced plans for a veggie pop-up in Soho, the concept was met with mixed reactions. Whilst veggies and vegans across the capital jumped for joy, many omnivores were left unconvinced. The announcement, made crucially via the CEO’s blog, actually predicted a 30% loss at the Broadwick Street store, and decided to use the pop-up as an experiment in delivering on consumer insight, as well as creating innovative recipes, new merchandizing, and working with newer, smaller suppliers.
Despite managing expectations, the store has been a big hit, with a 70% increase in sales (so far), as well as hype that has been likened to that of a Beyoncé concert. Having been to the store myself (and tried some of the delicacies, of course), I can testify to its success- consumers are taking photos, engaging with staff, and sharing their experience on social media platforms. I even overheard a fellow visiter comment that she’d bought “about double” the normal amount for her lunch, because she saw Veggie Pret as a special dining experience and just “couldn’t resist”.
The success of Veggie Pret seems to demonstrate a key lesson in the importance of listening to your customer, and being seen to do so. Instead of making hushed-up plans in a boardroom somewhere to capitalize on the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan food options, Pret took the discussion to the consumer via social interaction. Not only that; the chain tested the water, publicly predicted the venture to be a learning experience (in other words, a loss), and continually asked for consumer feedback both in-store and via social media once the store was up and running. All this combined to enhance a consumer perception of humbleness and willingness to learn. Not surprisingly, consumers like to feel that they are being listened to, and the brand’s attitude was reciprocated with priceless consumer insight, free publicity, and of course, increased takings.