Many airlines introduce partnerships around their food & beverage offerings as a way of trying to position their product in a certain way. If a customer doesn’t have a strong feeling about the airline as such, they may have a more favorable impression if the airline partners with a brand they otherwise love. For example, United serves Illy coffee, and JetBlue serves Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Well, Canadian low cost carrier WestJet (the Canadian equivalent of Southwest) has just announced a new onboard partnership, and it’s an interesting one. Rather than trying to partner with a premium brand, they’re instead going for a brand that many people love. As of December 1, 2016, WestJet will serve McDonald’s McCafe coffee on all flights. Per the press release:
WestJet announced today it has partnered with McDonald’s®Canada in a move that will see the restaurant’s McCafé Premium Roast coffee available on board WestJet aircraft.
The first flight, taking place on November 21, 2016, from Toronto to Calgary, represents a global-first for McDonald’s and an unprecedented next step in the McCafé coffee journey, which in recent years has continued its emphasis on providing Canadians with A New Way to Café.
By December 1, WestJet will offer McCafé Premium Roast coffee across its fleet of Boeing 737NG and 767NG aircraft with the company’s regional airline, WestJet Encore, to follow.
It’s expected that WestJet will serve 30,000 cups of McCafe coffee every day. For those of us into collecting rewards, the WestJet McCafe cups will have the same on-cup rewards sticker as cups on the ground, so you can even earn McCafe loyalty points.
Per CBC, here’s some of the motivation behind the partnership:
The move is the latest front in an all out war in the coffee industry to win Canadians loyalty in their coffee buying. Tim Hortons was once untouchable in the space, but McDonald’s has made inroads with its free coffee promotions.
Second Cup is the exclusive coffee provider on Air Canada flights, and Toronto-based regional carrier Porter Airlines uses Starbucks exclusively.
WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said Monday that Tim Hortons and Starbucks Canada both tried to bid for the contract to serve coffee on WestJet’s flights, but were unsuccessful.
When asked if WestJet will co-brand with McDonald’s on other products such as Chicken McNuggets, Saretsky said: “Possibly. We really want to make sure we get the coffee right first.”
Tim Hortons does not currently have a deal with any airlines to be the provider of coffee on board.
While unconventional, this is a brilliant partnership. McCafe coffee is actually quite good, in my opinion, and in this case they’re going with a brand many people love, rather than being concerned about how premium it is. Furthermore, given the market share battle with Tim Hortons in Canada, I suspect WestJet is getting the coffee for next to nothing.
Are you a fan of McCafe coffee?