And America’s favorite coffee brand is…(drumroll please)…
used to be a Starbucks devotee. I lauded the flavors, the baristas, the brewing
processes, and the politics of Starbucks. Like people, brands evolve, and
Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) is no exception. Ten years ago, when I was doing research
for a book, I looked at DD versus Starbucks and concluded that next to the
mega-shiny branding of Starbucks, DD was a stalwart, supermarket-based brand
that one drank out of necessity when traveling in New England, which is where
DD is based.
it turned out that I underestimated this 69-year-old American-bred,
Massachusetts-based chain, which was founded by William Rosenberg. Dunkin’, which dropped Donuts from its name as
of January 2019, is in the midst of a $100 million brand overhaul. The new branding goes along with how Dunkin’
has positioned itself---as the premiere, beverage-led, on-the-go brand. As part
of this offering, Dunkin’ now offers a special pickup section for online
orders, in addition to a bevy of espresso-based drinks, cold beverages, frozen
drinks, and vanilla chai.
The oldest coffee-shop
brand in the U.S.
fact, one of the best things about DD is its staying power. In September 2018, more than 45,000 people
surveyed by the polling company, Harris, expressed their brand preferences in
different categories, including coffee. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so
surprisingly, depending how you look at it, Dunkin’ emerged the hands-down
winner. And although Dunkin’ is an American brand, it has a global presence,
with almost 13,000 stores in 46 countries---and a total of 2 billion cups of
coffee (and counting) sold every year. Oh---and one more thing...let’s not
forget all of the store-brought Dunkin’ coffee in bags and pods. Once again,
Dunkin’ rules in this category.
New brand, but Dunkin’
will still have donuts—lots of them
Donut’s pink-and-orange branding seems whimsical, and in fact, it was intended
to be fun and attractive to customers. For now, most Dunkin’ stores will retain
the old branding, but all new stores will have updated signage, with the new
logo and the streamlined color scheme. But, there will be donuts---there will
always be donuts! In fact, last year, Dunkin’ sold almost 3 billion donuts
When Dunkin’ has your
is Dunkin’ so popular? Well, from a
technical, brewing-related perspective, the fact that all coffee is thrown out
after 18 minutes of brewing, if not consumed, could have something to do with
it. But, there’s also the connection between coffee-consumption, family tradition,
and personal preference. Many people say
they like it because it’s hot and strong—but not too bitter (often they mention
Starbucks in contrast).
on my research I found that many people love Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, but find
the atmosphere uninviting. In New England, however, the experience is different.
A woman I know, who grew up in New
England, had her first significant coffee experiences in Dunkin’ Donuts, which
dominates in New England. After church on Sundays, she and her father went to
Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee. The lack of heavy Starbucks concentration,
particularly in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and other parts of New England, can be jarring to those who are fixated on
Starbucks as a reliable haven for coffee. But, for this mother of two, who now
lives in Long Island, “Dunkin’ Donuts is home and Starbucks is a shiny
Drinking Dunkin' with my colleague/friend.
for her---and for all of us---Dunkin’ has staying power and will likely be the
go-to choice for many of our great-grandchildren, who will wax poetic about the
coffee-drinking experience of 21st-centruy coffee-lovers.