Dunkin Donuts, the nationally acclaimed AM eatery, is in the process of revolutionizing its menu in an attempt to shift its focus away from the doldrums of donuts and towards the exciting world of beverage innovation. This culture shift, as Paul Carbone (c.f.o. of Dunkin’ Brands) explains, is a strategic move based on recently unearthed research that has divided people into two distinct groups: those who choose where they’ll buy breakfast based on food, and those who will decide based on beverage selection. En lieu of this discovery, Dunkin has announced that its move towards a focus on beverage is an “evolution of the business,” that will up its ante in the breakfast dining arena. Carbone puts it bluntly: “part of it is the research and part of it is us really understanding that we can’t be great at everything.” Simply, Dunkin’ is picking a lane and putting pedal to the metal.
Dunkin’s Past Decade
In 2006, Dunkin’ had a serious choice to make: either reinvent itself to become more like the Seattle-based Starbucks, or, in true New England fashion, redefine coffee. It chose the latter, and since then, has been one of the biggest coffee distributors in the country. Now, in 2016, it’s doing it again: reinventing. The iconic slogan, “America Runs on Dunkin’” is being replaced with a more modern jingle that is meant to build an emotional connection with customers. “Keep On,” is a celebration of the perseverance of both the customer and the brand. Its almost a “we can do it!” and will be playing a big role in the company’s involvement with the 2016 Summer Olympics. Dunkin’ has turned to Hill Holiday for this reinvention, and more specifically to Chris D’Amico and his creative team. D’Amico’s vision is that the new slogan will appeal not just to Dunkin’s loyal fan base, but reach the hearts of the working American. D’Amico adds, “It’s the idea that we’re your partner in crime, or we’re like your wingman, your buddy in your daily struggle and we give you the positive energy through both food and beverage but also emotionally, we believe in you and we believe in the consumer.”
Understanding a consumer’s preference for either food or beverage has the ability to help producers of these products target specific audiences and market effectively. For example, by choosing to shift towards a focus on beverage, Dunkin is entering into competition with companies like Starbucks, while if it were to instead focus on promoting its food options, it would compete with restaurants like Einstein Bros. Bagels or Panera Bread. By focusing on either food or beverage, the restaurant experience becomes simpler and thus more attractive to the consumer. The goal of honing in on a specific product is to attract a loyal customer base and form a solid foundation. Dunkin has achieved this goal over the past 66 years, and now has the opportunity to appeal to a new audience while also maintaining relationship with its already solid foundation. Dunkin will continue to serve donuts and other breakfast noshes, but they will not be the main focus. Soon we will be standing in line and hear the customer at the counter ordering a non-fat, skinny vanilla latté with double espresso…and sure, they’ll take an old fashioned donut.
As someone who both enjoys Dunkin’ Donuts and prefers to drink her calories, the news that Dunkin’ has decided to focus on their beverage menu is music to my ears because, theoretically, it will be opening up the pearly gates to endless coffee creations for my drinking pleasure. With a more simplistic food menu, service will be quick, it will fit into my busy lifestyle, and I will be caffeinated and content.