APEX Insight: Offering travelers traditional treats from different cultures may seem like an odd choice, but in the increasingly competitive international airline business, food can act as a form of global fluency and help an airline stand out from its competitors.
For Montrealers looking to carry the current Poutine Week party into the sky and all the way to Korea, if they’re flying Korean Air, they may actually be able to. In celebration of the upcoming US Super Bowl, Korean Air has introduced poutine, the Quebecois delicacy of fries, gravy and squeaky cheese curds, as one of its meal options.
Korean Air isn’t the only airline to have made a cross-cultural meal announcement of late. In the flurry of snack announcements from major US carriers this week, one in particular stood out from the crowd: United Airlines’ selection of Daelmans Stroopwafels.
The pressed Dutch waffle cookie, sweetened with syrup in the middle, is a mouth-watering, if curious choice of snack for the American carrier. “We wanted to offer something unique and memorable, that’s a nod to our global presence,” says Karen May, United’s PR manager. “Stroopwafels fit the bill perfectly.”
“We wanted to offer something unique and memorable, that’s a nod to our global presence.” – Karen May, United Airlines
Done right, airline menu offerings and the marketing that supports them, can function as a form of global fluency. A Dutch cookie on a domestic US flight may not seem apropos, but it does serve as tasty a reminder of United’s global network. Poutine for the Super Bowl might be a bit of a cultural miss, but look, who’s really going to complain about poutine on a plane?
The opposite trend of hyper-localized in-flight menus has its benefits, too, and is popular especially with flag carriers. At APEX Asia in Singapore last November, panelists Dodo Su from China Southern and David Meyer from Qantas, both noted that it was an approach employed by the airlines to define brand in the competitive Asia-Pacific region.