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Marketing Planning Helps Dunkin’ Donuts Score Big in Coffee Customer Loyalty A key goal for a...

Marketing Planning Helps Dunkin’ Donuts Score Big in Coffee Customer Loyalty

A key goal for a marketing manager is to make sure that the company’s brand stays relevant. Successfully realizing this goal requires a marketing planning process that is both thorough and grounded in best practices, and also flexible enough to allow the firm to react to (and hopefully stay ahead of) changing customer preferences and shifts in values. Over its 67 years in business, Dunkin’ Donuts has shown that it can stick to its core mission while also regularly updating its marketing strategy, and thus remain relevant within the highly competitive “out-of-home coffee” category.57

In 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts was a single restaurant in Quincy, Massachusetts, with a simple mission: serve high-quality donuts and coffee at affordable prices with fast and friendly service. Today, with over 12,000 restaurants in 45 countries, the chain’s mission is still basically the same, but many aspects of its marketing strategy have changed to keep the brand fresh and relevant against fierce competition.58

In the first five decades of its history, Dunkin’ was mostly about the donuts. In the early 2000s, it decided to shift the focus more to the drink into which the donut was about to be dunked—the coffee. It squarely took on market leader Starbucks by offering a less expensive (yet really tasty) alternative, one that was faster and more user-friendly—the “average Joe’s average joe.” In 2006, Dunkin’ got even more serious about coffee with its famous and highly successful “America Runs on Dunkin’” campaign. Today, although it certainly still sells plenty of donuts, Dunkin’ sells an incredible 1.9 billion cups of coffee per year—that’s 60 cups per second!59

In recent years, a major focus of Dunkin’ Donuts’ marketing planning has been its digital strategy, especially by enabling engagement with customers through social media. Examples include the “create Dunkin’s next donut” contest a few years back, and the more recent integrated #mydunkin campaign on Twitter. In the latter, fans were encouraged to share their experiences via Facebook and Twitter with how Dunkin’ keeps them running, with the most enthusiastic fans appearing in Dunkin’ TV ads. Using these tools has helped the company hear the stories of its customers, retell the stories, and interact with these loyal fans on a regular basis.60

Although Dunkin’ scores lower than Starbucks in the number of social media interactions, experts importantly give Dunkin higher marks in terms of the quality of those interactions. According to Dunkin’s ad agency executives, “More than ever, Dunkin’ is a brand that listens to its guests, through multiple channels, at all levels of the organization. Dunkin’ puts its fans at the center of its social media strategy—they’re an active and passionate tribe that’s fueled by interactions with the brand.” And Dunkin’ also manages to take a jab at the competition now and then. Recently, its top Facebook post was a photo of a Dunkin’ T-shirt emblazoned with the message “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.”61

Marketing (Big M) and marketing (little m) combine strategic and programmatic/tactical approaches to provide a comprehensive focus on a company’s most important stakeholder: the customer and his or her experience with the brand. Witness Dunkin’s highly successful loyalty Page 76program, DD Perks Rewards, which is a key competitive differentiator for the company. With over 5 million members, this program is one of the fastest-growing loyalty programs in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry. As a member of DD perks, customers earn points for every dollar spent and receive a free drink when they accrue 200 points. On becoming a DD Perks Rewards member, the customer receives a personalized welcoming e-mail message explaining the benefits of the program. Additional e-mails are also sent, and customers receive special offers on their device through Dunkin’s mobile app (which has been downloaded over 16 million times since its launch). The app is also the platform for Dunkin’s On-the-Go-Ordering, with which customers can place their order in advance and pick it up on arrival.62

The superior customer experience that Dunkin’ Donuts provides has earned them industry accolades. No doubt to the ultimate chagrin of Starbucks, in the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index®, Dunkin’ Donuts has been number 1 in coffee customer loyalty for the past 11 years in the out-of-home coffee category and the number 1 brand for packaged coffee category for the last five years. This index recognizes brands that surpass competitors in delighting customers and meeting their expectations for taste, quality, and service, as well as brand value.63

Because of superior marketing planning and marketing strategy execution, Dunkin’ Donuts has successfully made the shift in focus from donuts to coffee, but it does operate in the shadow of Starbucks, which has 36 percent of the U.S. market to Dunkin’s 24 percent. And make no mistake about it, Starbucks is also very committed to digital and social media marketing and also has a loyalty program and a mobile app.64 As each company engages with its customers, Dunkin’s marketing managers will have to stay at the top of their game and continue to deploy a strong market planning process, monitor and adapt to customer trends, and respond with strategies designed to keep the Dunkin’ Donuts brand relevant and strategically differentiated against the competition.

QUESTION:

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts made a strategic decision to make its business about the coffee, not just the donuts. What are the risks when a company that is so closely identified with one product (it’s in their name!) decides to change its focus to a different product? What marketing strategies can help reduce the risks and increase the probability of success?

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Risks-

  • Product may not be what the customers want and need- Sometimes people do product development only because they have got a new technology and not because it is essentially required. Not doing enough market research will lead to negative effects of product development.
  • The product development process deals with hurdles and risks which are related to operations- Need of new machinery, technology and equipment is a necessity if we want to focus on developing a product or launching a new product. There can be transportation problems or supplying materials or supplies regularly.
  • Financial Risks- Maybe the new product may not develop that well in the market and the profits aren't as much as it would be anticipated. This leads to a loss for the firm.
  • Project Development done at a wrong time- Sometimes preliminaries are not set or proper research is not done before launching a new product. Sometimes, if enough profit is not made from the previous product diversification and the company uses its resources for launch of a new product, even that causes a doom for the company.

Marketing Strategies-

  • Accepting the risk- Sometimes it is valid to accept the risk and deal with it. Risks related to poor finances of the company or depletion of resources is something to accept.
  • Transferring the risk- The risk can even be transferred in a positive way to other less pressing issues.
  • Reducing the risk- The risk should be reduced too. Like establishing a time line before the launch of the product is reducing the risk.
  • Eliminating the risk- The best way to deal with the risks and look after the future of the company would be to eliminate the risk in totality if it is possible. Always keeping in check what the customers and suppliers need, doing extensive market research, planing beforehand, etc will all help in eliminating the risk.
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