Deep Dive: Dunkin’ Donuts


Battle of the Holiday Menus

Each and every year, my mother and I always look forward to the holiday season not only because it’s a time of joy and family getting together but also because it indicates the soon return of delicious and festive beverages that find their way into coffee companies menus with the turn on the season. Each winter, we religiously purchase peppermint-flavored coffee or hot chocolate. There’s nothing like a peppermint mocha on a frigid winter day to get you into the holiday spirit! It seems my mother and I are not the only consumers to think so as Dunkin’ declared it would announce another early unveiling of it’s festive offerings to spark the holiday spirit like in previous years.

In early November, Dunkin’ revealed a lineup of new and returning holiday beverages, snacks, and bakery items, in addition to a special in-store program designed to support the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation and children struggling with hunger or illness. The charitable program encourages customers to donate $1 when visiting its stores or to donate via the mobile app in return for coupons that can be redeemed before the new year. This limited-time program, running throughout the month of November, demonstrates Dunkin’s value of service and charity during a season marked by kindness and generosity. The timing of the program is strategic in the way it is likely to tap into consumer dollars before people rush to buy holiday gifts or prepare for more self-interested activities. It is also strengthened by the new holiday menu as consumers will see its promotions each time they step into a store or log into the mobile app to purchase a limited-time menu item.

A menu that includes returning favorites Peppermint Mocha Signature Latte and Chicken, Bacon & Cheese Croissant Stuffers as well as notable newcomers such as White Mocha Hot Chocolate, Holiday Blend Coffee, Cranberry Orange Muffins, and Pancake Minis to name a few. However, the unveiling begs the question: how exactly does Dunkin’ plan to differentiate their holiday menu from competitors such as Starbucks who also releases a seasonal menu featuring new and returning holiday beverages, especially customer favorites such as the peppermint mocha? I think it will be interesting to see what solution Dunkin’ will come up with to compete with its leading competitor especially given how successful Starbucks’ previous marketing campaigns have turned out. 

In addition to the new menu, the company has also introduced a new cup design that is available for a limited time to further spread the holiday cheer. The design depicts the holidays’ simple joys like peeking at gifts or tangled up Christmas lights that are meant to encourage customers to embrace the little moments with their loved ones this holiday season. The new design makes me curious as to what else Dunkin’ has planned in terms of its marketing strategy for the holiday season. Are they going to implement a marketing campaign similar to Starbucks’ previous Red Contribution or Red Cup campaigns? These campaigns strengthened Starbucks’ brand awareness and image by encouraging customers to create their own cup designs and post them on social media for a chance to be featured and promote their products by pledging to donate 20 cents for every handcrafted latte purchased. To me, Dunkin’ should take a page out of Starbucks ‘ playbook and build a campaign around their new cup designs, they’ve already done something similar to Starbucks ‘ Red Contribution campaign with the charity donation program they’ve introduced this November. I also want to know how Dunkin’ plans to further combat Starbucks’ long history of successful holiday marketing campaigns? In an industry that is saturated with competition, it’s important for Dunkin’ to continuously build brand awareness to attract new customers and increase loyalty through new features and products. I think the new holiday menu and cup designs are a great way for the company to do just that and maintain its leading status within the industry.