McCafé: A very successful simultaneous rebrand and repositioning.

by | Jul 20, 2014 | Brand, Strategy | 0 comments

“Consumers began to encourage their skeptic friends to give it a try and most did. The Canadian market perception of McDonald’s coffee changed almost overnight.”


AUTHORS NOTE: During my university years, I never really bought coffee out. I would bring my thermos filled with piping hot coffee to the brim every day. I was trying to save money, but even if I wanted to buy out, I didn’t like my options… Tim Horton’s coffee? Not a fan. Starbucks & Second Cup? Too expensive. McDonalds (at the time)? Disgusting. So when they came out with McCafé, I was pleasantly surprised. A well-priced coffee that actually tasted very good. Sold!

Before 2011, consumer coffee tastes and preferences in Canada largely favored Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup. Few Canadians would think about going to McDonald’s to grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee because the consensus was that McDonald’s coffee was not very fresh and didn’t taste all that good.

McCafé rebrand & repositioning.


Then, McDonald’s greatly improved the quality of their coffee. They started offering a premium coffee beverage that was brewed with a high-grade Arabica coffee bean. They rebranded their coffee beverages to McCafé and launched the new brand by offering free coffee to encourage product trials.

Word of mouth spread quickly that McDonald’s new coffee was, in fact, delicious. Consumers began to encourage their skeptic friends to give it a try and most did. The Canadian market perception of McDonald’s coffee changed almost overnight.

“The rebrand to McCafé and improvement in their product offering also lead to the brand’s repositioning.”


The rebrand to McCafé and improvement in their product offering also lead to the brand’s repositioning. Canadians began to perceive McDonald’s coffee with a positive valence because McCafé products were seen as fresh, tasty, and of high quality.

The success that McDonald’s Canada experienced from the McCafé rebrand proved to be a major problem for their direct competitors: Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Second Cup. Especially since McDonalds was able to convert many coffee consumers that were once brands loyals to brand switchers, thus increasing the rivalry in the already competitive Canadian coffee industry.

McCafé ad

In my previous article, entitled “the difference between rebranding and repositioning”, I discussed how rebranding can change the way consumers perceive brand attributes, thus resulting in the repositioning of a brand. The McDonald’s McCafé rebrand is a textbook example of this very notion.

What you can learn from McCafé?

If the market doesn't view your brand, products or services very positively, then there is still hope! A new product or service, if launched properly, can have a tremendous positive impact market perceptions of your brand. The key in that last sentence is *properly. You can pour thousands of dollars into a launch, but make sure that the product or service is what your target market really wants. Conversely, you can have an amazing new product, but that won't do you any good if you aren't properly marketing it.

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Meet the author.

Taro Abarbanel-Uemura

Marketing Strategist

Meet Fortified Marketing's founder and lead marketing consultant. Taro loves reading fascinating articles on various marketing-related subjects, just as much as he enjoys writing about them. When he isn’t savouring a latte while working on his newest blog post, he can be found at a coffee shop in Ottawa's Little Italy, or marathoning shows and documentaries on Netflix.

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