Dunkin’: Rebranding 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 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












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