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



The Global Implications of a Rising US Dollar

There are a lot of great things to be said about the United States economy right now. As US markets celebrate their longest ever growth streak, economically, a lot of Americans are satisfied with their financial well-being. Unemployment fell to a 50-year low, falling from 3.9 to 3.7 percent in September, as the US economy added another 134,000 jobs and companies have been steadily announcing payroll increases. In the third quarter, wages grew 3.4 percent, the fastest pace in over a decade. Amazon shocked the country by announcing its new $15 minimum wage for US workers, a policy that will go into effect next month, and is yet another sign of the best labor market in over a decade.

In the midst of this positive growth, the US Dollar continues to perform well as we enter the fourth quarter. US treasury yields are their highest since 2011, the dollar hit an 11-month high against the yen, and even the pound slipped to below $1.30 as the Dollar continues to sneak up. This means many Americans will enter the holiday season not only more eager to spend, but perhaps more eager to travel, as the Dollar’s value continues to rise globally. While spelling great news for US citizens, what does this mean for others around the world? Specifically, emerging markets across the globe are very aware of the recent trend of the Dollar, and in many cases, are facing potentially severe implications if the rapid growth continues to be a trend.

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Currency exchange rate sign in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Argentine peso has fell significantly in 2018.

One key indicator of economic and monetary prosperity is the Federal Reserve benchmark interest rate. The Fed tends to raise rates during a strong economy to contain excesses and make sure the economy continues to grow stably, and tends to lower rates in times of economic struggle, in an effort to boost spending and borrowing. Currently sitting at a range between 2% and 2.25%, the Fed raised the rate for the third time in late September, and plans to raise it again sometime in December, and the plans don’t stop there. In June, when the Fed laid out its long-term objectives, it tentatively planned three more interest rate increases for 2019, and one more for 2020. The rates can also help ensure inflation rates are steady. The current inflation rate of 1.9% is very close to the Fed’s target of 2%. This is a very significant outline, as it tells us that the Fed predicts the US’s growth to continue through 2020.

 While signaling stability for the US Dollar, the Fed’s interest rate increases can negatively affect foreign markets, especially those who have borrowed heavily in US Dollars. As it stands, the US is still, by far, the dominant global reserve currency, accounting for 63% of global reserves. Many countries around the world issue Dollar-denominated debt, and debt levels become exaggerated with the rise of the Dollar. While interest rate increases work in strong economies such as the US’s, the same increases constrain countries where economies are not doing as well. It hurts policy options in regions with tight financial conditions and high trade tensions. While the US market enjoys a growth streak, the markets of emerging countries have on average been declining throughout 2018.

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The Indian Rupee hit an all-time low this year vs. the US Dollar.

Emerging markets, which often rely heavily on foreign investment, will be hurting the most. In emerging Asian markets, the Indonesian rupiah hit a 20 year low in 2018, and the Indian Rupee hit an all-time low vs the Dollar, hitting 73.77. In South America, the Argentine Peso, which was placed at 18 vs the US Dollar in 2017 and was relatively stable, rose to over 40 in 2018. The Brazilian Real hit 4.15 this year, while being in the low 3s during 2017. In the Middle East, the Turkish Lira, which has been in the 3s for the last half decade, has reached above 6, and in Africa, the South African Rand has increased to over 15 despite being as low as just 11 last year. While these are some of the more extreme examples worldwide, and while there are plenty of other internal issues at play, it still marks a global trend of struggle against the US Dollar. The reality is, foreign investors are crucial to the success of emerging economies, and investors become more and more reluctant to invest abroad in times of such volatility.

This brings up an intriguing ethical debate, that is, should we, as Americans, really care about the economic struggles abroad? After all, with turbulence abroad, investors have turned to the relative stability and strength of the US markets, increasing investment in 2018. With our government’s “America First” policy, jobs have finally been increasing again over the past few years. Despite this, I worry about the tough implications that emerging economies are facing right now. Worldwide market collaboration and investment drives innovation and success and can move different people and cultures together forward Of course, the reality is a lot more complicated, but I still see success, especially in emerging markets, as a positive thing, and it is important to keep in mind that US markets affect these markets more than we think.




Controversy on the Court: What Will the Tennis World Do Next

On September 8th, Serena Williams faced Naomi Osaka in the US Open Final match when it quickly spun out of her control. Williams became engaged in a heated dispute with the match umpire Carlos Ramos after she was handed a series of code violations that made her lose points at a critical time in the match.

Ramos first gave Williams a violation for making eye contact with her coach who was in the stands watching, which is illegal as players cannot receive coaching during their matches. Ramos then gave her a second violation that resulted in the loss of a point for her smashing her racket on the ground in frustration. For the last straw, she finally received a game penalty for verbal abuse after she confronted the umpire, claiming that he stole a point from her and that he was a “thief.”

In the aftermath of the controversy, the International Tennis Federation defended Ramos and said he was within reason for handing out the rule violations. Williams unfortunately ended up losing the match. In her news conference afterwards, she claimed that she did not believe that what she said was bad in comparison to what male players say to umpires. As the dispute started trending on every website and social media, former players also backed her up on this.

Famous tennis player John McEnroe admitted that in his playing days he said much worse without getting penalized for it. Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and equal rights advocate, tweeted, “When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King was one of many athletes that emerged to support Serena Williams.

If there is to be a stop to this type of sexism in the tennis world, Serena is the best to lead and advocate for this change. The greatest female tennis player ever, and the face of the tennis world, her entire career she has dealt with people loving to hate her not only because she is a female, but also because she is a minority. People don’t just dislike her, they love to hate her. This passion is not over a specific reason. They don’t hate her because of the way she acts or who she is. It is purely because they don’t want to like her and want to see her fail.

There is a glaring double standard in the way that men and women are treated in the sports world, but also in tennis specifically. What women are allowed to say, what they are allowed to wear, and how they should go about being angry or frustrated is all held to a different standard than men.

For example, Serena received backlash from the president of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Giudicelli in August after she wore an all-black catsuit in one of her French Open matches. He cited that it was disrespectful to the game. Williams countered by saying that the suit was not just for aesthetic reasons, but that it in fact helped her from developing blood clots during the match, something she has struggled with since becoming a mom last year. Men have always worn colorful outfits during their matches and suffered no backlash from it. Why can’t women do the same? Isn’t this entertainment after all?

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Beyond that, however, inside women’s tennis, there are also different standards for how African American women are allowed to conduct themselves on the court. Serena and her sister Venus always have to deal with things differently compared to other female players in the specific outfits they wear, the way they style their hair, and how well-spoken they are in off-court interviews.

Not judged for their tennis skills on the court, they have to play opponents while people are in the stands wanting to see them not succeed. The mental strength it must take to actually stay strong through that and stay focused on their tennis goals and not be affected from other people cannot be understated.

The tennis world needs to make a change. While such a big event like this made us take a hard look at the sexism that is in the sport, we need to realize that problems like these have been happening for a while. Only when we acknowledge the misogyny around us can we begin to make steps to fix it.