Dunkin’: Rebanding Into a Beverage-Led Retailer

Coffee, for most people, is the soothing cup of brew that brightens up his or her day. Just from the aroma of the coffee beans can instantly put a smile on someone’s face. Coffee consumption has been a very common trend in recent years, especially America. Annual surveys provided by the National Coffee Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America show that 50% of the U.S. population (about 150 million Americans) drink coffee related beverages ranging from espresso beverages, such as cappuccinos and lattes to iced cold coffees like cold brew. In 2017, it was recorded that specialty coffee sales were increasing by 20% per year.

Dunkin’ Donuts classifies itself as a quick service restaurant company. In 2016, Dunkin’ Brands Inc. ranked second in market share of 21.9% in the U.S. coffee shop market. In light of the growing coffee consumption in America, Dunkin’ Donuts announced on September 25th, that the company would officially be renaming itself as solely “Dunkin’.”

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The company’s decision reflects its goal in increasing emphasis on its coffee and other drinks. Although the restaurant still plans to make and sell doughnuts, this name change further highlights its move towards a “beverage-led” retailer. The rebranding will officially take place beginning January 2019 with the “Dunkin” logo appearing on signs, napkins, and boxes in U.S. stores. International stores will eventually adopt the name change following January.

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This well-known coffee chain has been around for 68 years and Dunkin’ Donuts intends to keep the familiar round font and its distinctive orange-and-pink color scheme. Another reason behind the name change is in part to stay relevant to younger customers. They also recognize the growing trend in eating healthier, as well as coffee having a high profit margin because of the popularity of caffeinated beverages.

Ultimately, the change to ‘Dunkin’” represents a long-term goal of repositioning. Headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts tested the name “Dunkin” by altering their signs in about “30 Boston-area locations and 20 other shops nationwide” last year. The first store to have the “Dunkin” logo on the building was in Quincy, Massachusetts. Along with the new “Dunkin’” sign, the Quincy restaurant unveiled a new concept store that “includes digital kiosks, an expanded Grab & Go section…[and] ice tea, coffee, cold brew [such as nitro cold brew] on tap.” The employees would also be wearing new uniforms with slogans that read, “Fueled by Positive Energy,” and “Drink Coffee. Be Awesome.” David Hoffmann, CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, made a statement in regard to their repositioning: “The launch of our next generation concept store marks one of the most important moments in Dunkin’ Donuts growth as an on-the-go, beverage-led brand.”

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New Dunkin’ sign in Quincy, Massachusetts
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New tea, coffee, and cold brew on tap in Dunkin’ Donuts’ Quincy concept store

Dunkin’ Donuts believes that its new concept store will modernize the customer experience by making the process of ordering quicker. They also intend to implement a mobile order drive-through lane and instead of placing baked goods in bins behind the register, to have them within arm’s reach of guests inside a glass case. The new concept store also has the benefit of being tailored based on difference in locations. A store in an urban environment will most likely utilize a pickup section for mobile orders and do without a drive-thru. The shorter name also reflects this more streamlined concept of being modern, simple, and fast.

Being that Dunkin’ Donuts is the eighth-largest fast food restaurant chain by number of locations in the world (11,300), it does not come as a shock that many consumers have heard of the news and reacted accordingly. There has been a slew of mixed reactions towards Dunkin’ Donuts plan to change their name. Many consumers voiced their attitudes and concerns toward the rebranding on Twitter. People believe that “Donuts” is an important part of the company and just prefer there to be no change at all. One twitter user, Bob Loblaw tweeted, “Dunkin Donuts without the “Donuts” is like renaming Taco Bell just “Bell” or Burger King just “King.” On the other hand, other Dunkin’ Donuts lovers are not bothered with the name change since they have referred to the company as “Dunkin’” anyway in their daily lives. Other common nicknames for the beloved chain include, “Dunks,” “Dunkies,” and “DD.”

With over 8,500 restaurants in the U.S., it is very likely to find a Dunkin’ Donuts in most college campuses. The University of Pittsburgh has its very own Dunkin’ Donuts in the center of campus. This location is very popular with there usually being a line everyday of customers that extends past the door to outside. It will be interesting to see if our beloved coffee place will redesign their floor layout to resemble the concept store in Quincy. In less than 2.5 months, Pitt will observe the the store sign without the “Donuts” part in the name.

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Dunkin’ Donuts on Forbes Ave on the University of Pittsburgh campus taken by Megan Sitlinger

There have been many other instances in which companies altered their name to being less product-specific and expand their brand identify. In 2011, Starbucks Coffee was shortened to Starbucks to reposition themselves as more than just a coffee restaurant. Burlington Coat Factory rebranded itself to Burlington to emphasize the sale of other merchandise other than coats. Around the same time Dunkin’ Donuts announced their name change, Weight Watchers also revealed on September 24th that they will be changing their name to “WW.” After 50 years, Weight Watchers believes this brand identity will better reflect its new mission to focus less on dieting and more on overall health and wellness.

It is fascinating to witness a well-known company reposition itself from was once a heavily focused doughnut store towards a more beverage-led restaurant. There will most likely be a greater assortment of drink options in the future. With Dunkin’ positioning themselves more towards drinks and Starbucks declaring the elimination of single-use plastic straws in its stores by 2020, it would not be surprising to see Dunkin’ create different types of cups made from more biodegradable material in the future. The original Dunkin’ Donuts store opened up in 1950 and is about a mile away from the Quincy, Massachusetts concept store. This revolutionary chain continues to modernize its brand and I do not see any halt in their efforts any time soon.

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The Original Dunkin’ Donuts Store











China’s Import Ban Greatly Impacts America’s Recycling Market

Recycling has been a growing phenomenon ever since environmentalists persuaded the government to implement more sustainable means when dealing with household waste. Growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia, my elementary school teachers frequently instructed us on the proper ways to recycle, whether that was looking at the bottom of various recyclables like milk or egg cartons to see whether they had the proper number in the “recycle logo” that indicated if we should or not should place them in the blue recycling bins.

Back then, there was more of a stress on the “three-bin system” that separated trash, recyclables, and compost. We learned of the three R’s and sang in unison the catchy phrase, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Although many people and businesses are becoming more environmentally friendly, it seems senseless to ask where exactly all of our recyclables end up.

Surprisingly, for years, merchants in China have been buying American recyclables to sift through the heaping pounds of trash to collect scrap paper and cardboard for packaging purposes. Thus, all of the trash Americans put in their blue bins on their curbs are being compressed into 1-ton bales and sold to other countries overseas.

Going against this “three-bin system”, America has recently been trying to place as much recyclables into one bin and then shipping the waste to China. The responsibility then falls onto China to sort out the waste. This service cultivated “third world-like sorting operations,” and thousands of poor, rural migrants were employed to filter through the enormous piles of waste to recover the usable materials and throw away the rest.

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Once the packing boxes are repurposed, they are then shipped back to the United States filled with Chinese-manufactured goods. China benefited greatly from business with America over the years because it is much cheaper to make cardboard or plastic using recycled material rather than making it from scratch.

To what extent does China impose on the importation of America’s recyclables? While the U.S. exports 30% of all recycled material, half of that 30% goes to China. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., China imported 17 million tons for about $5.5 billion, in 2016. Although many regions of the U.S. export varying amounts to China, western states make up a large portion of China’s market in the exportation of recycled waste.

This repetitive cycle and synergistic relationship between China and the U.S. has been going on for years. Thus, it came as a shock to the U.S. in July of 2017 when Beijing notified the WTO of their plan to stop importing of “foreign garbage.” The ban would commence at the beginning of 2018.

The main reason for this regulation was that “large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes [were being] mixed in [with] the solid waste that [could] be used as raw materials.” Ultimately, China has been trying to reduce their pollution rates by  implementing programs that will clean up their environment. The importing of America’s waste was causing a negative impact on China’s air with the large amounts of hazardous waste incorporated with the recyclable material.

Before the ban, most of the waste China imported was being thrown away in landfills. Thus, many of the recyclables that America believed were being reused were ultimately thrown away by China. Although many people have been recycling for years now, there is still a misconception as to what trash can be recycled and what cannot. Some materials that are found in recycling bins but should not be placed in them include: plastic grocery bags, grease-stained pizza boxes, and wax-coated frozen-food packages.

Speculations emerged saying China implemented this ban because Beijing “hopes to tap into its own growing consumer base as the foundation of its recycled materials industry.” A way for China to not experience the same environmental hazards when sifting through America’s waste is by implementing a rigorous program of inspecting piles of waste and sifting out the contaminated trash, food waste, or even materials with moisture in reject bales.

America has been highly dependent on China’s business in buying their “unwanted” materials. However, most Americans today have been unaware of these large exchanges with China throughout the years.

Consequentially, China’s import ban on America’s waste has caused the U.S. to frantically find a new market to purchase the recyclables. In the meantime, however, a large portion of the waste are being thrown away into landfills. This operation is the exact opposite of what recycling is supposed to do for the environment. It is astounding to know that in all of these years of recycling that China, not America, was the country reusing material for manufacturing. I assumed, while growing up, that America used their own facilities to operate on repurposing waste in hopes of being a more sustainable society. Sadly, I was wrong.

It is not uncommon for many organizations to have their products manufactured in China and then shipped back to America. One notable company is Hallmark, a manufacturer of greeting cards, based in Kansas City. Due to an increase in competition from the Internet, Hallmark has been “outsourcing its workforce overseas for the past decade.”

For any special occasions, Hallmark offers greeting cards that are made from 100% recycled material. These cards are much cheaper compared to other Hallmark cards. If one were to look at the back of these eco-friendly cards, one would most likely see the phrase: “Made in China.” It would not surprise me that Hallmark has been manufacturing many of their products abroad because of China’s large operations with repurposing cardboard and plastics. It will be interesting to see if China’s ban on the importation of America’s recyclables will have any impact on Hallmark.

America, a modernized country that is highly innovative in technology, has a societal duty to protect the environment. Therefore, the United States will have to put in more energy and attention to this issue of recycling in finding safer and cleaner ways of reusing material other than relying on countries overseas. Because the U.S. government has been in charge of this trade with China, I speculate that the government will try to find the easiest and cheapest way in disposing of our recyclables. I am certain that most Americans are unaware of these operations with China. Thus, I hope more people will learn about what really happens to their waste and support the need for the U.S. to actually recycle instead of throwing away the recyclables in landfills or exporting the remains to other countries.







Whistleblower: Kelly Cole’s Lawsuit on the University of Pittsburgh

The social movement in which people are more ethically conscious of their actions has been greatly emphasized in recent years. Especially throughout the business world, corporations have implemented many codes of conduct for employees and managers to assess their actions and determine if their decisions are ethical

As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, I have taken many courses that teach the importance of ethical decision making and corporate social responsibility. Many benefits can be seen when organizations base their decisions on the ethical decision-making model, while companies that do not act ethically have drastic consequences. Such an example can be seen in many University scandals, such as the highly controversial legal investigation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s creation of fraudulent classes to help student athletes maintain eligibility.

Given the fact that Pitt teaches their students on how to act ethically, the university experienced an ethical dilemma that dealt with their research department and is now faced with a lawsuit for wrongful termination. A former immunology professor and Regional Biocontainment Laboratory associate director, Kelly Stefano Cole, assisted with the work at the regional biocontainment laboratory. Kelly had reported the escape of an infected monkey in the lab back in 2016. She stated that the monkey was infected with a select agent and its whereabouts were unknown for several hours. Kelly thought this issue should be classified as an exposure incident following the definition of a select agent from the Centers for Disease Control, in which they state, “biological agents and toxins that have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety, to animal and plant health, or to animal or plant products.”

Cole thought it was appropriate to report the matter as an exposure incident and contacted her superiors, Stitt-Fischer and Bill Yates, to report to the Environmental Health and Safety Department, as well as the National Institutes of Health. Both Stitt-Fischer and Bill Yates instructed Cole not to report. The university’s biological safety officer, Molly Stitt-Fischer, classified the escape of the monkey as an accident and not a safety violation

However, there were many instances that can be seen as questionable. When Cole reviewed the university’s official report on the incident of the infected monkey, she found that the information was inaccurate; the duration from when the monkey had escaped was recorded as much shorter than the actual several hours it had been unsupervised.

That same year, 2016,  Cole had also reported a purposefully contaminated animal: a rabbit, to have escaped for some length of time. Luckily, both the monkey and the rabbit did not escape from the research building and into the public campus.

After Cole had reported these incidents, the university and the staff had begun to treat her differently. She would receive official complaints on trivial infractions. While her colleagues acted in similar manners, they were not subjected to any rebukes like Cole. Cole’s privileges to the laboratory in its full capacity were later revoked, and eventually she was fully denied access to the premises and many university services.

Cole was eventually dismissed from her job. The lawsuit claims that the University of Pittsburgh violated the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law. The law is intended “to protect employees of both public and private organizations, and allow victims of retaliation to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages.” Cole is seeking compensation from lost wages and benefits, as well as harm to her reputation and humiliation. She filed in January 2018 in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit is still being processed and we await to hear the verdict of the court.

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems only right that Cole would report the incident. Thus, I was puzzled at the fact that the institution would punish Cole’s actions and dismiss her entirely. Had the infected monkey escaped the premise, many people, especially the research department, would most likely applaud Cole’s decision of reporting the incident. However, because there was no harm done to anyone, the head researchers wanted to pretend as though nothing had happened.

Most people would agree that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Learning about the ethical decision-making model in my managerial ethics class, Cole followed protocol and seemed to follow along with the steps to make a ethical decision in reporting the infected monkey with the accurate duration that it escaped. I hope to see that Cole will receive what she asks in the lawsuit against the university because the treatment she received from her colleagues seemed very unprofessional and just plain disrespectful. No one deserves to have their career and reputation smothered from an action one believed to be right.

Many of my friends are affiliated with the research department at the university. They told me that from the university’s point of view, the culture of research is to be as confidential as possible so as to not scare the public. They must make their work confidential and a form of secrecy is common in that line of research. Although this may be the culture, it still does not validate how the university treated Cole by ultimately terminating her position. It will be interesting to see the results of the lawsuit and witness if Kelly Cole will receive justice for her actions.




2. http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/30/escaped-infected-monkey-university-of-pittsburgh/

3. http://statelaws.findlaw.com/pennsylvania-law/pennsylvania-whistleblower-laws.html

4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/10/13/after-years-long-investigation-ncaa-finds-no-academic-violations-at-north-carolina/?utm_term=.a1dcea006238