Will Dunkin' Drop the “Donuts” to Compete with Starbucks?

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The beloved New England coffee chain, Dunkin' Donuts, is testing out a name change. Instead of being “Dunkin' Donuts,” the brand may soon just be known as “Dunkin'.”

It looks like the brand is trying to distance itself from being known as a place to just get doughnuts. 

Is this because these delicious fried ring-shaped pieces of dough don’t fit the healthy lifestyle of today’s consumer? 

Back in the 1980s, Dunkin' made the memorable line, “Time to make the donuts” famous. Doughnuts were a popular breakfast item. 

Fast forward to today, doughnuts now have an unhealthy negative connotation. Although innovative concepts like The Salty Donut, Stan’s Donuts and VooDoo Doughnuts are thriving in their markets offering high-quality doughnut masterpieces at a much higher price-point than Dunkin', these concepts are being visited by foodies as a treat. Most aren’t visiting these concepts on a daily basis. 

Is the brand planning to drop the “Donut” because the brand wants to expand into markets that aren’t as familiar with the brand?

Dunkin' Donuts is on every block in most New England cities and there are multiple DD stores in surrounding suburban towns, but in markets like the west coast, consumers are not as familiar with the brand. With the name, Dunkin' Donuts, it’s easier for a new potential customer to write the chain off as being merely a doughnut shop.

Not to mention, coffee is much more profitable than doughnuts now. Back in the 1970s and 80s, the average coffee was less than 50 cents for a cup. Now, millennials are willing to pay a much higher premium for coffee beverages. Starbucks has demonstrated this with its massive success. Today, there are higher margins to gain from coffee.

Not to mention, Dunkin' offers much more than doughnuts and coffee. The brand has an array of breakfast-friendly items. By removing the “donut,” the brand will have a name that matches its broader portfolio.

If DD does decide to move forward with the name change, it will likely be due to a mixture of all these things.

But for the time being, the brand said it would be testing the new name at only a few locations.

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