Seattle’s Best Franchise Takes to the Skies
Seattleâ€™s Best Coffee has had a busy year. The coffee brand within the Starbucks portfolio has redesigned its logo and brand identity; rolled out a tiered system of coffee blends labeled simply Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; launched its first integrated advertising campaign, dubbed â€śAnywhere Great Coffee is Neededâ€ť; and signed agreements with Subway, Burger King, and AMC Theaters to distribute its coffee.
This week, the brand announced that it has partnered with another company to help deliver its coffee toâ€”and aboveâ€”the world: Delta Air Lines. Starting March 1, all domestic and international Delta and Delta Connection flights will serve Seattleâ€™s Best coffee.
Jenny McCabe, director of communications and public relations for Seattleâ€™s Best, says the growth of Seattleâ€™s Best took off with the hiring of Michelle Gass as president in September 2009. Since that time, growth has been a matter of creating â€śbroad accessibility through partnering with great brandsâ€ť like Delta, McCabe says.
â€śWe think that we can make premium coffee more accessible than ever before,â€ť she says. â€śFor those great brands, what theyâ€™re seeing is that customers are looking for, maybe even demanding, a better cup of coffee when they go somewhere. It can be a strategic part of their business.â€ť
McCabe says Seattleâ€™s Best now has 40,000 different points of distribution, up from 3,000 in 2009. The goal, she says, is to reach 100,000, though there is no time frame on reaching that goal.
The Seattleâ€™s Best deal is a part of Deltaâ€™s $2 billion investment in passenger experience between now and 2013, McCabe says. Through an in-flight test in December, it was determined that Level 4 of Seattleâ€™s Bestâ€™s Level System would be served onboard Delta flights.
While Seattleâ€™s Best continues to deliver its coffee to more and more distribution points across the country, McCabe says it is not in any way encroaching on parent company Starbucksâ€™ business. While Starbucks delivers a stronger, more characterized, beverage mostly to its retail locations, McCabe says the aim of Seattleâ€™s Best is to deliver a simpler, yet premium, beverage where it is not yet served.
The airline industry is just one of those spaces.
â€śThis is the white space [Gass] saw when she was setting up this strategy. Airlines havenâ€™t gotten there, [quick serves] hadnâ€™t gotten there, family dining hasnâ€™t gotten there. What about the vending industry? We have ambitions for all of those things,â€ť McCabe says. â€śLots and lots of places have not yet decided that premium coffee is important to their business, and weâ€™re out to convince them one at a time that it is.â€ť