America Runs on Dunkin’, but Will They Stay?

Dunkin’ Donuts prides themselves in promoting their image as the coffee spot for the average Joe. However with Starbucks and McDonald’s as competitors, Dunkin’ Donuts has decided to revamp their stores in an effort to pull in more upscale coffee drinkers. Dunkin’ Donuts is now attempting to reach customers that are interested in the coffee-drinking experience rather than just a quick morning pit stop. Owners have the ability to choose from four different schemes that they can remodel their store as. These themes include “Original Blend,” “Cappuccino Blend,” “Dark Roast,” and “Jazz Brew.”


-Pictured above is the “Jazz Brew” scheme.

By redesigning their stores, Dunkin’ Donuts hopes to give their customers a better overall experience. In turn, customers will be more likely to form a strong attachment with their brand and chose them over Starbucks or McDonald’s.  Just as the CEO of Starbucks states in a quote from author Bryant Simon, “I think we have managed to, with a simple cup of coffee and a very unique experience, enhance the lives of millions of people, by recreating a sense of community, by bringing people together and recognizing the importance of place in people’s lives.” If Dunkin’ Donuts would like to be able to brand itself as what we call in IMC, a “third place,” they will have to take a page out of Starbucks’ marketing plan to create an atmosphere that draws people in to not just drink coffee, but stay.


-Pictured above is the “Cappuccino Blend” scheme.

So far the new change in atmosphere has led to positive results for Dunkin’ Donuts. The remodeled locations include new additions such as faux-leather chairs, digital menu boards, and relaxing music. These changes have already fostered a greater sense of community because more business professionals are stopping in around lunch time for business meetings and interviews.

Improving the consistency in the appearance of their locations, Dunkin’ Donuts can reach a stronger brand identity. It is evident that their stores need to be redesigned after receiving the second lowest atmosphere score for beverage and snack shops in a 2012 survey done by Nation’s Restaurant News and WD Partners. As of June the company had redesigned 90 locations and hopes to have 600 finished by the end of 2013. Have you recently been to a Dunkin’ Donuts and noticed a difference in the atmosphere? Have you wanted to actually sit down and stay a while?

-Aaron Love, Kara Zimmerman, Rachel Clay, Rebecca Hobbs

7 thoughts on “America Runs on Dunkin’, but Will They Stay?

  1. I’m curious as to how this will impact their overall brand strategy. The slogan “America runs on Dunkin” lends itself to more of a pit stop kind of location. Now that they are trying to create a place for customers to stay and chat.. I wonder if a new slogan is in the works that will reflect that. Looking back over the photos of some of the potential options makes me wonder how the atmosphere really feels in person.. It seems a little inauthentic to mimic what other coffee places are doing just to keep up. Starbucks had much more than just a color scheme in mind when they crafted their “third space”… I am very curious to see one of these remodeled DDs. Will it look more like a Starbucks or an orange version of the Taco Bell redesign or something else entirely? Thanks for the heads up! I will keep an eye out for one of these redone Dunkins!

  2. This is new information to me and I love the approach that Dunkin’ Donuts is taking. Remodeling their stores brings a remodeling to their brand along with it. As the blog states, “Dunkin’ Donuts is now attempting to reach customers that are interested in the coffee-drinking experience rather than just a quick morning pit stop. ” The remodeling of the stores will definitely attract more customers, the change from a “morning pit stop” to a sit down coffee shop will get those customers to become regulars. With their four new themes and their revitalized vibe for the store has Dunkin’ Donuts looking like an attractive and popular hotspot for more professional coffee and donut fans. If Dunkin’ Donuts can reach their quota for redesigning and remodeling, their efforts should help with their atmosphere score for beverage and snack shops the next time it is conducted.

  3. This came as a pleasant shock to me! The remodeling of Dunkin’ Donuts will definitely impress me as a customer and keep me loyal to their brand. Their coffee is my number one choice for many reasons, but their atmosphere has always been one of my complaints. The inside of Dunkin’ Donuts has always felt more like a fast food restaurant and less of a relaxing coffee shop. I cannot think of a time that I took a seat inside of a Dunkin’ Donuts and just relaxed, if I want to have coffee and relax/study I choose Port City Java. I believe their atmosphere change will not only impress their faithful customers, but will attract new customers as well.

  4. I was unaware of this Dunkin’ Donuts revolution. I think that it is a good idea for certain areas of the nation, but not everywhere. Dunkin’ has always been a place for a quick stop and people search for things like that. It is sort of like McDonald’s versus Chick- fil- a. Yes, they are both fast food places, but Chick-fil-a is on a whole different level and people respect it more. I think that Dunkin’ Donuts is our McDonald’s of coffee. Innovative as it may seem, I think that making ALL of the Dunkin’ Donuts this way could potentially harm its image. Although, their atmosphere score was low, I don’t think that was due to the coffee. I do agree that they should revamp the seating and ordering process and potentially the colors. Overall, Dunkin’ Donuts might not be making the proper move towards success. Thanks for the awesome information guys!

  5. It’s interesting to see Dunkin forced to recognize that they are not in the league of Starbucks, and are now actively taking steps to become a competitor, by changing the atmosphere of their stores. I myself have never thought of Dunkin Donuts as a place I’d want to go get a coffee and hang out for a chat, or get some homework done/catch up on the news. But with this new change I will definitely be watching to see if these new interior styles make a difference on the brand’s name and target consumer.

  6. It might just be me, but I loved the old Dunkin’ Doughnuts atmosphere! When compared to Starbucks it’s nothing special, but it’s just a quick breakfast and coffee shop, so I don’t think it needs to be. I wonder how this atmosphere shift will affect their brand image. I would miss the casual, quick, modestly priced brand (when compared to Starbucks. Let’s not even talk about McDonalds coffee, because that satisfies a whole other market) If Dunkin’ ends up becoming more like Starbucks after attracting the business professional crowd, it’s likely that prices would rise as well to reflect the new atmosphere and customer base. I would hate to see that happen, because I feel like right now Dunkin’ represents the coffee place that is a good balance of quality and price. Also those designs just don’t do it for me. It looks like the designers were going for modern and instead they achieved a caricature of modern design. I really hope they don’t all change!

  7. Fascinating case. Will they seem like mimics as Lexi asks above or will they find a way to meet the expectations of the genre while staying true to the brand? There is very cool research on space and place that could inform a more detailed analysis. My question is will customers really “stay” at this third place or will they simply be content that they COULD. I often go to Wal Mart at 6 pm just because I’m sure they’ll be open simply because they’re open 24/7. Will there be a similar dynamic with DD. Great case to follow up on!

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