Panera Dives in Swimwear Merch to Promote Summer Soup


  • 85%

    Brand Recall is Highest For Branded Apparel Items.

    Source: ASI Central
  • 47%

    Of Consumers Keep a Promo T-Shirt For 2 Years Or Longer.

  • 63%

    Of people keep promotional hats because they are attractive.

Panera Bread Soup Bowl Next to Summer Pool
Panera Bread Branded Swimwear merchandise.

The Challenge: Get People To Buy Panera Soups in the Summer Heat

Panera is known for its cozy, cafe feel. You walk into a Panera and are greeted by the smell of fresh bread, warm soups, and cozy nooks for eating, studying, and reading. Cozy isn’t always as appealing in the summer heat though. At least, it’s easy not to think so. Still Panera’s customer surveys proved that 70% of customers still liked soup in hot weather. With that stat came the idea to launch the 2021 Swim-Soup collection. This swimwear collection featured a fun cheese and broccoli pattern print as well as more minimal pieces in the signature Panera green color. There was also an inflatable bread bowl for the pool that accompanied the swimwear. The price range for the collection was $20-25 with shipping included, which was an exceptionally affordable price for exclusive merch. The final result was that the demand for SwimSoup pieces was hotter than the summer heat! Each piece sold out completely on the store page. The comments and interactions left under punny social media captions promoting the collection demonstrated a significant demand and overall successful campaign.

90% of people who receive a promotional product can recall the name of the brand.

(Source: PROmotion Marketing, LLC)

90% of people who receive a promotional product can recall the name of the brand.

Breaking It Down

Breaking down the Panera SwimSoup marketing campaign shows us a couple things. First of all, let’s note the exclusivity of this collection. Scarcity drives demands and the limited-edition status of this collection channels just that.

Furthermore, this collection targeted a very specific and, even odd, preference. Soup is an almost intuitive choice in the cold months but not at all in the hot summer months. You can think of “summer soup lovers” as a subculture inside of the Panera community. This collection allows a particular group of people to identify themselves with this quirky preference.

The last element of this marketing campaign, and perhaps the most important, was that it was backed by research and data they collected. Data is like currency in the marketing world. The Panera marketing team was able to take note of interesting customer preferences which then allowed them to better understand and cater to their customers. Data is extremely valuable and will continue to be for marketers and businesses alike.

80% of people can recall the messaging of a brand after receiving a promotional product.

(Source: PROmotion Marketing, LLC)

80% of people can recall the messaging of a brand after receiving a promotional product.

How to Replicate this Success

Collect Data

If you want to create a marketing plan like Panera, collecting survey data will be important. You can do this in a variety of ways including hosting an online giveaway contest for survey participants or giving discounts/coupons for completing the survey on the website after the visit. If you have a brick-and-mortar business it also might be helpful to have short surveys guests can fill out while they shop or eat. Whatever method, make sure you track and collect all the responses. As a pro-tip, keep your survey short and to the point to ensure your customers finish it.15-20 questions is a good stopping point.

Find Patterns in the Data

Once you tally up the data, you might find that some of the survey responses are quite striking! Take advantage of this to create a marketing campaign that is fresh and fitting to niche customer tastes and preferences. You can use specific group preferences to build a theme around your merch collection.

Be Bold With Your Merch

Don't think that slapping a logo on your items is going to get your business much attention. Invest in quality items and unique designs that will appeal to your customer's preferences. Panera was wise in making a swimsuit with a fun broccoli cheddar print and another in a solid color with a bold print. Doing this allowed them to capture differing consumer style preferences. A minimal and pattern design means that there is something for everyone.

Planning for the Future

Making merch can be a fun way to celebrate your customers and create a greater sense of community. On AnyPromo you will find a great array of apparel blanks that you can use for a custom merch collection. Need more help generating ideas for your merch marketing strategy? We break down many successful merch marketing stories in our other blogs and on our social media profiles.

See More Articles from AnyPromo Academy

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