Burger King takes on Starbucks with app-based coffee subscription service
- Burger King today (March 15) rolled out a BK Café Coffee subscription tied to its mobile app, according to a news release.
- The service lets users of the BK App pay a $5 monthly fee — or, as the brand is marketing it, "the price of a large cappuccino from Starbucks" — to receive one daily coffee from participating restaurants.
- The promotion only covers one small hot coffee and not Burger King's specialty, iced or frappé varieties. It is not valid on delivery orders and is not available in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Burger King has built a brand around directly trolling competitors in its marketing for years, but has recently focused more on linking those efforts to its mobile app to meet the growing consumer demand for convenience and digital finesse. Chris Finazzo, president of Burger King's North American operations, in a press statement emphasized the company's ongoing commitment to leveraging technology to improve the customer experience.
The brand angling for some of Starbucks' business marks a bit of strategy pivot since, unlike chief rival McDonald's, Burger King isn't necessarily well-known for pushing its coffee offerings. It's recently debuted more advertising focused on the subject, however, including a bizarre spot released last week that shows its King mascot visiting the company's coffee bean harvesters in Colombia. The BK Café Coffee subscription could be a way to further drive interest to that portion of the menu and also app downloads, as value-conscious consumers look for alternatives for getting their brew.
The subscription is cheaply-priced but fairly limited and might be missing out on a key on-the-go audience by not encompassing delivery. Burger King, like many major restaurant chains, has invested more heavily in mobile ordering and delivery to cater to consumer sets like millennials, who have shown an aversion to fast food but are driving growth in on-demand services. Following the trend, Burger King has built out partnerships with Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates and now offers delivery at 3,000 restaurants in the U.S. and roughly 7,000 restaurants globally, according to Restaurant Dive.
In any case, the subscription service rollout extends Burger King's attempts to be disruptive in its marketing messages, which have frequently earned the brand online attention, industry accolades and engagement. Late last year, the company ran a "Whopper Detour" geolocation stunt that took aim at McDonald's. From Dec. 4-12, smartphone users who downloaded the revamped BK App could order a Whopper sandwich for a penny when they were within 600 feet of most McDonald's locations. José Cil, chief executive of Burger King's parent company Restaurant Brands International, claimed the campaign boosted app downloads by 1.5 million on a call discussing quarterly earnings in February.
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