In a recent Blog Squad meeting, we were asked to think of something that we were really passionate about and write a blog about it. One slow day, I decided to tackle this and see what I came up with. Go figure, Dunkin’ Donuts came to mind.

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for the Dunkin’ Donuts fangirl gushing that’s bound to take place in this post.

Adult education classroom
Never would’ve survived my 8 AM classes without a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts

My love for this coffee franchise started when I was a sophomore in college and had discovered them on my commute to and from classes. On my tight budget, I could grab my steaming cup of joe for my early morning classes while still being able to afford gas in my car. Since then, I’ve been hooked and have been a loyal follower.

What drives my enthusiasm for the Dunkin’ Donuts brand (or if you wish to use one of their other nicknames, Dunkin’, Dunks, D-and-D, Dunkies, DD)? I love the feel of going in, ordering (medium, hot, coffee with cream and sugar), and then getting on with my day. I don’t need any unnecessary chit-chat about the weather or weekend plans while my coffee is being poured at 7:00 AM. This is what separates Dunkin’ Donuts from more indulgent coffee shops.

The late William Rosenberg founded Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts. About five years later, he opened the door to franchising the restaurants. One of the early ones was built across the street from a Ford assembly plant in Somerville, MA, which was a great way to increase loyalty from the hundreds of so-called rivet-heads that worked there. The type of customer hasn’t changed from the working class men and women during the 1950s. According to the former senior vice-president of communications, Margie Myers, “a couple of years ago, we looked into the psychographics of who our customers are,” she said. “They tend to be very hard-working people, down-to-earth with a strong sense of self. So it’s not really about the job, it’s about who you are as a person. You can look into any of our parking lots and see [everything from] BMWs to trucks.”

Don’t believe her? Take a look next time because she’s right on the money.

Female cop eating a donut
Get in, get out, get on with your life

“I would say what Starbucks has done is turn coffee into identity, as a way to make a statement about who you are,” said Bryant Simon, a history professor at Temple University who researched Starbucks for a book. He goes into more depth: “McDonalds is trying to compete against Starbucks – going wireless, putting fireplaces in – but Dunkin’ Donuts is realizing they can position themselves differently,” says Simon. When he asked one of the head honchos at Dunkin’ if they would ever offer free Wi-Fi, he was told they wouldn’t. The last thing they want is to have tables taken up by “a bunch of people in ties banging away on their laptops,” leaving other customers with no place to sit for a quick bite to eat. Dunkin’ knows their consumers and their values, all of which indicate they don’t need to stay for hours on end. Most of them just want a place to grab a hot cup of coffee (and a donut) and hit the road.

Here’s my favorite quote from Mr. Simon that perfectly sums up this coffee tycoon and speculates whether or not Starbucks can ever claim a successful nickname like Dunkin’ Donuts: “Starbucks is like the guy who introduces himself to you as Alexander,” says Simon. “It doesn’t want its name shortened. And anyway, what are you gonna call it, Bucky’s?” Once you’re comfortable with someone it seems almost second-nature to give them a nickname, and Dunkin’ has this going for them.

Okay, I’ve blabbered on enough about why I love Dunkin’ Donuts. I’ll now give some suggestions for what you can do to have this loyal of a following:

1) Have an outstanding product that gets people excited about your brand.

There has to be a secret ingredient to making their coffee

If you want people to come back for more, then give them a reason to. I love their coffee because I find it balanced and not as strong like other coffee shops. Plus, I have a theory that they use the powdered sugar from their donuts in their coffee instead of the standard sugar, or some other controlled substance. What else can make it so addicting?

2) Have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Depending on your market, this is where your fans are getting their information. Be there to answer questions and provide advice when asked. Dunkin’ Donuts is very good at giving responses to customers on either social networking site within a few hours of it being posted.

3) Don’t gouge your customers and expect customers to come running back for more.

Guy looking at an expensive menu
“$12.50 for a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee?!”

Prestige pricing only works for some products, so don’t automatically assume you can overcharge. They offer a great price for their products. C’mon, a medium coffee for under $2.00 is pretty good for me. Plus, when you order a breakfast sandwich and a coffee there’s a discount, which is something I always take advantage of.

4) If you’re able to, offer coupons!

To go along with their fair prices, Dunkin’ also offers coupons for things I actually purchase, like discounted coffees, breakfast sandwiches, free donuts, etc. Not your typical “hey-this-thing-never-sells-so-we-always-offer-a-coupon-for-it” style that some restaurants use.

When I was asked to think of something that I was really passionate about, I thought about it for a while and had a list of things that I like: The Office, photography, Chicago history and some favorite movies (Sgt. Bilko, Tommy Boy, and You’ve Got Mail). Then it hit me — in the form of a major mid-afternoon Dunkin’ Donut coffee craving — and I had my answer.

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