In mid-March, Burger King rolled out its $5 coffee subscription service. The deal? BK app users who signed up would receive one cup of hot coffee per day, for only $5 per month. This isn’t the first in-app deal leveraged by the quick-service restaurant either.
Burger King has also had similar deals for app users like its Whopper Detour deal, and QSR Magazine reported that the Burger King app was the most-downloaded app in the Apple Store for a short time in December 2018.
The chain’s marketing and promotional tactics appear to be working, but there’s a key difference with the $5 coffee subscription compared to the deals that came before: It’s coffee, not food. In addition, it takes aim right at the highly competitive breakfast QSR segment, going up against leaders like Starbucks, Dunkin’, and McDonald’s.
Will consumers be swayed by this deal to get their coffee—and breakfast—from Burger King instead of their competitors? Will the subscription service work in the QSR space? What do consumers think?
To find out, we asked our network of smartphone-enabled shoppers and received more than 2,200 responses. Here is what they had to say:
Were Consumers Interested in BK’s New Subscription?
We turned to our smartphone-enabled shoppers in the weeks following the announcement of Burger King’s new $5 coffee subscription. The news was covered in many media outlets, from CNBC to USA Today, Forbes, and many more. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the QSR’s target audience was aware of—or interested in—the new service.
So, we asked. Of more than 2,200 respondents, 86 percent were aware of the Burger King $5 monthly coffee subscription at the time of the poll: late March to mid-April 2019. The issue at hand, however, is whether consumers want coffee from Burger King, instead of a leading competitor like Starbucks or Dunkin’.
86% of consumers polled were aware of the Burger King $5 coffee subscription.
Which QSR has Subscription Opportunities?
Per our poll, 36 percent said they were more likely to go to a different QSR for their coffee, compared to 31 percent who would use BK for their morning joe. Unfortunately for Burger King, though, 64 percent of respondents would be more likely to enroll in a coffee subscription service from a different QSR. Only 5 percent stated that they’d prefer the BK subscription option over its competitors.
Expanding on the finding that a majority of our smartphone-enabled shoppers would use a different QSR for a subscription service, we asked which restaurants were favored.
The leader was Starbucks, followed by McDonald’s, Dunkin’, and Chick-fil-a. Naturally, the preference for type of subscription was food-based over beverage-based, at 45 percent to 41 percent. Another 14 percent didn’t like the idea of a QSR subscription at all.
What Drives Consumers to QSRs?
Taking a step back from the Burger King $5 coffee subscription, let’s dig into what makes QSRs a desirable destination for consumers in general.
In our survey of more than 2,200 smartphone-enabled shoppers, we also wanted to learn more about what they liked about QSRs in the first place, if the subscription service couldn’t–or wouldn’t–move the needle for them.
For starters, we asked what our shoppers’ favorite QSR was. The winner was McDonald’s, followed by Chick-fil-a and then Starbucks. Burger King was in a distant fifth place behind those leaders and Dunkin’.
Consumers choose their preferred QSRs for the quality of the food there, according to 43 percent of the respondents. That was the runaway winner for the question of “Why QSRs?”, far ahead of just 20 percent in favor of inexpensive food. Popular QSR features cited by consumers were the drive-thru option, the quick service, and the accessibility afforded by many locations.
43% of consumers cited the quality of the food as the driving force behind a QSR visit.
Are Subscriptions the Future of QSR?
We set out to uncover the viability of Burger King’s subscription model and the level of enthusiasm from consumers for a subscription offering from a QSR.
The results showed that there is an opening for more subscription services in the QSR space, and not just from Burger King. Consumers are willing and able to use mobile apps to make QSR purchases and leverage promotions from their preferred chains.
It comes as no surprise that consumers enjoy the convenience, affordability, and speed of QSRs. Any QSR subscription that homes in on these elements—like BK’s $5 coffee subscription—can become a win for both customers and QSRs.