Can a free cup lure coffee drinkers from Tim's to McDonald's?
By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance
Say what you want about McDonald’s, but there’s a reason they’ve served over 99 billion, or approximately half the people convinced Paula Abdul is a raging alcoholic.
Mickey D’s is again proving why it might be the savviest restaurant chain around, offering free coffee for the next two weeks in a bid to nab about the only market share in fast food they don’t already have.
That’s right, every morning until May 3rd, you can walk into any of McDonald’s 1,400 Canadian locations and they’ll give you a small coffee absolutely free.
The only catches to the deal aren’t really catches at all. You have to get the cup between 5:00-10:30 a.m., you can only get one per customer and the deal isn’t available with an extra value meal.
Other than that, you’re in the clear.
On the surface, this is a pretty great bargain. You pay nothing – you don’t even have to buy a burger or anything, so people with the “I wouldn’t touch McDonald’s food EVER!!!” high-horse argument can’t complain – and you get a free cup of coffee that’s, by all accounts, pretty underrated. (I call this the Subway Cookie Theory, reserved for fast food items you’d never really think to order but turn out to be delicious.)
Of the coffee drinkers I asked for this post, the reviews I got for McDonald’s coffee ranged from “surprisingly good” to “better than Tim Hortons.”
And while that last statement probably ticks you off, that’s where the genius in this free coffee promotion lies. McDonald’s appears to have a pretty good coffee product they’re confident in, but have never had a window to steal drinkers away from the major retailers.
But with the economy crapping the bed and Tim’s and Starbucks either reeling from poor sales or having to shutter stores altogether, you can easily make a case that people might turn elsewhere for a cup of joe now -- especially when it’s free.
And the Globe and Mail points out how the two-week promo (the deal started yesterday) will benefit McDonald’s even more than just getting its coffee out there.
“If you can get someone to try your product every day for two weeks it becomes an acquired taste,” market analyst Michael Krestell tells the newspaper.
“To get them into a routine you have the potential to break (them from) a previous habit. It’s no coincidence.”
Turning the rabid Tim’s faithful away from their familiar cup won’t be easy, but damnit if McDonald’s isn’t going to try.
Posted by: Sharon Wilson | Apr 21, 2021 7:53:06 AM
It's a great idea. They'll get some people to switch, but don't expect to put a huge dent into Tim Horton's customer base.
Posted by: treehugger 10 | Apr 21, 2021 8:36:54 AM
Posted by: Mark | Apr 21, 2021 8:40:43 AM
WOW great idea for sure who whouldn't want a free coffee? And I'm sure they will get some takers, but I'm not guessing all that many from Tim Hortons. I would be all for it if McDonalds were getting their printed cups from from a north american supplier! Instead of getting them from Europe!! Maybe those people that have lost their job by McDonald's pulling their cups from North America can get free coffee for life. Lets Keep jobs in Canada/North America and keep everyone working!!!
Posted by: Willam A de Wit | Apr 21, 2021 8:52:09 AM
Will McD use real cups? As in customer supplied. Or will they continue to generate unlimited amounts of garbage?
Posted by: A. Hammond | Apr 21, 2021 9:02:08 AM
Yes because Macdonalds coffe is better & more for your money
Posted by: Leo | Apr 21, 2021 9:37:59 AM
Nothing compares to a good, piping hot Timmies for me.
Posted by: dumpydon | Apr 21, 2021 10:01:14 AM
I think McDonalds could attract more or repeat customers if only they would serve HOT hashbrowns and WARMER sandwiches. I have to specifically request this at my McDonalds, and they look at me as if Im a difficult malcontent. Perhaps its time to really assess what they are doing and if the customer really matters. My 2 cents MCD's spend it wisely!
Posted by: Paul | Apr 21, 2021 10:13:29 AM
It's brilliant! Hey if you have the extra cash to launch a promotion like this and steal some market share that you would not normally have..then why not!....Pehaps Tim's ought to respond by doing exactly the same. (this would be nice)
Finally, 1 for the Consumer!
Posted by: Lisa | Apr 21, 2021 10:39:57 AM
I already thought McD's coffee was better than Tim's. I'm going to enjoy my 2 free weeks though!
Posted by: Ashleah | Apr 21, 2021 10:45:06 AM
I worked at McDonalds last year when they did this, and just to let coffee drinkers know, McDonalds actually bought out Tim Hortons coffee suppliers, so Tim's had to change to a different brand, and now McDonalds actually has the 'better' coffee. Of course it's all personal preference, but this is what happened.
Also, Coffee at McDonalds is cheaper, and if you're staying in, you can get free refills. Can you imagine Tim Hortons giving free refills? Haha.
Posted by: Dave | Apr 21, 2021 10:45:42 AM
Just another promotion gimmick to get people in the door. When it's not free anymore people will go back to the place they like best. They may get a few converts but it likely won't hurt Tim Hortons. For clarification Tim Hortons is not reeling from anything. Profit dropped 9.7% likely related to closure of a few stores in the US. Same store sales in the Canada were up 4.4% and in the US down a trifling 0.1%. Starbucks on the other hand...... And this is not one for the consumer...MacDonalds expects that you will likely buy something else while you are there and most people will. And what does a small coffee cost them...
Posted by: Tim | Apr 21, 2021 11:06:28 AM
I prefer McD's coffee and have for a while. Even without the promotion, refills are free. A medium cup of McD's is the same size as Horton's large and it costs less than a Horton's medium. Plus, I don't buy one of Horton's dang donuts!
Lots of people work at McD's so jobs are kept in Canada. By all accounts, McD's employees are treated fairly. Their program for work with students is well received by the schools in our area.
Posted by: Tom Taylor | Apr 21, 2021 11:18:22 AM
Why slander Paula Abdul in this write up, wether she is or isn't what sense does it make
Posted by: Juan Valdez | Apr 21, 2021 12:00:25 PM
It's agreat idea. It's also better tasting coffee than Tims.
Posted by: Tracey | Apr 21, 2021 12:13:40 PM
couldn't pay me to drink their coffee lol They couldn't brew a good pot if their lives depended on it, doesn't matter which coffee they use or if they have tim's "good stuff" now if you can't brew it properly it doesn't matter what the quality of bean your using.
Posted by: Mary G. | Apr 21, 2021 12:54:15 PM
Their coffee is wonderful--far better than T.H.
Posted by: Mike | Apr 21, 2021 1:43:42 PM
Is that supposed to be a clever lead?
If so, it missed the mark.
Childish and an indication that real journalism is gone, gone, gone.
Posted by: crazy canuck | Apr 21, 2021 1:50:40 PM
stay away from mcdonald's in general is a good rule of thumb, who would feed that to themselves or there children, are ya'll insane, mcdonald's is a bad bad place overall,
Posted by: Donna | Apr 21, 2021 2:03:49 PM
the mcds at my location Neepawa, Mb., is so slow, I don't think giving a free coffee will suck to many in. Not only do you usually have to stand in line at least 20 mins. but the place is not very clean. I can hardly wait for Tim Hortons to open.
Posted by: DIDI | Apr 21, 2021 2:44:20 PM
AT LEAST AT MCD'S THERE IS NO 15 MINUTE WAIT LIKE AT TIMMIES- FOR THAT REASON ALONE I REFUSE TO GO THE TIM HORTONS
Posted by: Maurice | Apr 21, 2021 3:46:39 PM
Did anyone notice that Tim's has reduced the size of the cups and increased the price.
Posted by: Gemineye | Apr 21, 2021 4:00:31 PM
Tim Horton's pretends to be Canadiana, when in fact, they are far from it. I know Mc D's isn't very Canadian but at least they don't lie about it. Every single cup of coffee I get from Timmy's is terrible, it's my last choice for coffee, with the exception of, Coffee Time. Get your heads out of your a**es.
Posted by: Doug | Apr 21, 2021 4:30:23 PM
What is good about McD's? The orange juice. I have never liked their food, and even with an improved coffee blend, that is not enough to turn me away from Tim's. I doubt they will make a dent in Tim Horton's bottom line. Tim Horton's is also no longer owned by Wendy's. The stock subscriptions were snapped up, largely by Canadians, with headquarters in Oakville, Ont. That is pretty much Canadian to me. There is a reason they outsell and out gross MacD's and Starbucks combined in this country. Better food, better coffee, better image. I'll stand in line gladly.
Posted by: Brian | Apr 21, 2021 4:51:23 PM
My wife & I are retired and switched to McD's when they started offering a small coffee & a muffin (which we normally split) for $1.39 last year. Add in a seniors coffee and the total comes to $2.50 with tax, LESS than the price of 2 medium coffees at Tim's with no muffin. McD's "small" is exactly the same size a a Timmy's "medium" . We found that we came to like the taste of McDonald's better as well.
Posted by: Brent | Apr 21, 2021 5:44:03 PM
It's enough of an incentive for me to try it and base my own opinion of how it compares to T.H. To be honest I have high hopes.. if I wait in line less, it costs less, and it tastes as good or better, I'll be happy
Posted by: Andy T | Apr 23, 2021 12:22:13 AM
I'm a Tim Horton's coffee fans, but I will try McDonal's coffee.
Posted by: Nancy | Nov 18, 2021 11:39:50 AM
After reading in the newspaper that Starbucks, Wendy's, McDonalds and Tim Hortons were graded as the top tasting coffee I decided to do a taste testing challenge with my staff who had a heated debate of who was better.
For the most part the group consisted of Tim Horton and Starbucks lovers. The taste test which only I knew what they were tasting came down to this....McDonalds was the favorite to everyone's surprise. Tim Hortons tied with Starbucks. Wendy's did participate because they were not open at 9am when I purchased the coffees. So in my mind they have no right to be placed in the competition. There is nothing like that first sip of coffee and I for one do not want to wait until 11am.
Since I was the one going into the restaurant to purchase the coffee I noted the following: (I ordered Large as in "Tim Horton Large" at all places.)
Tim Hortons - huge line but fast service, cup size for large was good, hot and lid was easy to open
StarBucks - small line, good service, cup size for large was smaller than the rest I purchased and lid has an open hole in it, which I managed to spill when getting into the car! Coffee not too hot.
McDonalds - no line, okay service, largest cup of all, with a good lid, cup wasn't hot to touch but coffee was nice and hot.