Community Coffee Co.’s new partnership with Southwest Airlines, which took off March 1, “is really about reach and exposure on a different scale than sampling in stores across the country,” Jodi Conachen, general manager of communications for Community Coffee Co., told FoodNavigator-USA.
Rather than reaching a couple of hundred consumers during an in-store demonstration, providing Community Coffee’s Community Signature Blend, Signature Blend Instant Decaf sticks and Community Hot Tea Bags on all Southwest Airline flights could exposes the brand to upwards of 100,000 million customers who fly the airline annually, Conachen said.
She explained, the coffee, which was selected in a double blind taste test and will be served in co-branded cups, will deliver a premium experience to consumers at a time when many need comfort and consistency.
It also gives the beverage brand a way to measure consumer responses in areas where the product is not yet distributed in stores and to generate initial consumer demand. Conachen said the company currently sells the coffee in 24 states, but will continue to fill in more states as the partnership with Southwest Airlines continues.
A natural fit
The partnership between Community Coffee Co. and Southwest Airlines was a natural fit, in that both companies are dedicated to helping the communities they serve, Conachen added.
She explained for every pound of Community coffee served on a Southwest flight, the airline and coffee maker will provide funding to the ECOM Foundation to support the farmers who produce the coffee. The donations will fund education programs about agriculture so the farmers can improve their livelihood. It also will support the opening of two satellite schools in rural Chiapas, Mexico, where residents struggle to attract teachers due to their remoteness, Conachen said.
Partnering with airlines provide significant social media lift
Providing complementary branded products on flights also can generate “amazing” social media impressions, according to a representative with Hail Merry, which makes refrigerated snacks such as tarts, macaroons and brownie bites.
“We started working with Virgin America airline [in 2012] to provide Merry Bites to passengers, and all the social media that came out of it is pretty cool – specifically, people taking pictures of the products with clouds in the background,” she told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West, where the company was debuting a line of bite-sized tarts in three reduced-sugar flavors: Sweet Potato, Blueberry-Acai and Strawberry-Rhubarb. It also launched a new Salted Brownie Merry Bites flavor.
The company representative added that travel and vacation posts on social media often generate a lot of interest within people’s networks – further expanding the products’ reach beyond simply who is eating them on the plane.
Partnering with airlines also can help brands standout more from competitors than in grocery store demonstrations, where the surrounding shelves are filled with other options.
“When you are up in the air, you have less selection – especially of natural products – so travelers are even more excited to try something new and then find it in a store near them when they land,” the representative said.
Hail Merry also touches consumers who stay at Omni Hotels, where the Merry Bites are placed by their beds instead of a mint or chocolate during turn-down service. This further associates the brand with happy memories and being cared for, she said.