Dunkin’ Starbucks

Dunkin’ Donuts is apparently looking to Starbuck itself. Which would make a hell of a lot more sense if Dunkin’ Donuts’ customers didn’t hate Starbucks.

From the Brand Autopsy blog: “Seems as though loyal Dunkin’ customers didn’t enjoy the atmosphere, didn’t like all the laptop-using customers hogging the tables, didn’t appreciate the tall/grande/venti lingo, and didn’t understand why someone would pay $4 for a cup of coffee.”

Despite all of this, though, Dunkin’ Donuts has decided to ape Starbucks’ pretensions, installing granite topped counters, playing jazz and classical music in-store, installing gleaming pastry cases and selling paninis under the far more appetizing pseudonym “stuffed melt.”

We have to admit, we don’t get it either. Coming from a small Boston suburb, our friends who preferred ‘Dunkies’ tended to be metal head stoners turned construction workers, or pool sharks looking for some coffee at 2am to squeeze one more game out of their fatigued, pot-bellied frame. Our friends who preferred Starbucks, on the other hand, tended to be doofus hipsters.

While we’d personally prefer to spend our coffee breaks in a ponderous armchair, winking at barrista chicas while lazily eyeballing a paperback copy of De Tocquesville, we certainly can understand why many people prefer a more utilitarian and down-to-earth experience when it comes to their coffee. Given Dunkin’ Donuts’ clientele, why they aren’t accentuating the differences as opposed to trying to conform to them is an absolute mystery. Yet another reason to go to Krispy Kreme.

Hey Dunkin’ … Accentuate the Hate! [Brand Autopsy]

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  1. Andrew W says:

    Also hailing from Boston, I’d say Dunks here is pursuing both angles. In commercially craptastic places like Harvard Square, they’re doing upscale. But at Park St., Somerville, Brighton, etc.–where regular people live and work and need an unbothered cup of coffee–Dunkin’ Donuts is staying true to its roots.

  2. I think the answer, unfortunately, is that doofus hipsters tend to have more money burning a hole in thier pockets than metalhead stoners. I personally prefer Dunkin for it’s general lack of evil, and part of me kind of applauds them for stepping up to the plate to take a bite out of Starbucks. Although at the same time, it is a bit of stretch to call Dunkin Donuts “the little guy.” As long as thier prices and termonology stays the same, I’m behind any coup of the Starbucks insanity.

  3. Andrew W says:

    doofus hipsters tend to have more money burning a hole in thier pockets than metalhead stoners

    But for every doofus hipster (isn’t the term hipster-doofus?) are ten commuter rail riders, cops, and guys covered in drywall dust. Dunkin’ Donuts is a place people go to wake up in the morning; it’s not part of cafe culture like Starbucks, and to attempt to pick off customers from both ends of the spectrum will really result in losing the customers that built it up in the first place. It’s like Levi’s self-destructing when it tried to sell trendy jeans.

  4. kerry says:

    I’ve noticed here that Drunken Honuts (as we liked to call it in high school) is for the rebellious hipsters who are currently backlashing against Starbucks and high-end chain coffee in general. If I’m going to give my money to an evil, multinational corporation I’m at least going to spend less and not make such an event of it. “Small black coffee, please. And a cruller.”
    Us non-doofus hipsters buy our fancy coffee from local independant roasters.

  5. etinterrapax says:

    Another Massachusan here, and I agree that their approach might work in the more upscale suburbs, in Cambridge, or even downtown–they redid a few stores near Faneuil that look good, though not unlike Dunkies on the inside–but out here in the very working-class sticks, I don’t see it working out well for them. There is no Starbucks here (yet), in spite of the colleges in the area, and I’m betting it will just annoy most of their customers. I know I missed them when I lived in a Dunkies-free part of the midwest and couldn’t get a decent corn muffin.

  6. Andrew W says:

    Just one more Boston-based comment from me–while Dunks was owned until last year by a Paris company, controlling interest now belongs to Boston private investment firm. This firm also happens to own the company I work for, and if their decisions here are a reflection of what will happen to Dunkin’ Donuts, Dunks is in trouble. They do some pretty textbookedly bad things in persuit of short-term gains.

  7. KevinQ says:

    Andrew W said:

    But for every doofus hipster (isn’t the term hipster-doofus?) are ten commuter rail riders, cops, and guys covered in drywall dust

    Yeah, but the hipster-doofus is going to buy the high-price, fat-margin “extra-gordo double skim frappuchino,” and not the low-price, low-margin “large cup ‘o joe.”

    I think as long as DD knows their markets and neighborhoods, it could work out for them.

    K

  8. mariser says:

    tenuously related to the topic at hand: Spalding Bakery “best donuts in the world” has reopened in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky after being closed (and missed) for 1½ years. seriously, if you are ever stranded in the Bluegrass state, give them a try. and make sure you get 6 dozen to freeze when you get back home…

  9. Papercutninja says:

    Problem is, D’D coffee tastes like hot garbage. If it werent for the fact that their donuts weren’t sprinkled with high-grade crack concaine, i wouldn’t even set foot in the store.

  10. I love Starbucks — I admit it freely. In fact, I’m sitting at Sbux right now. I’m here for several hours every day. My partner works at Starbucks. Soon, I’ll be getting my health insurance through Sbux.

    But I really miss Dunkin’ Donuts, too. We don’t have ‘em out here on the West Coast. There just ain’t no good donuts out here — even Krispy Kreme sucks outside of the hours that they’re making ‘em fresh.

    D’D and Sbux definitely appeal to different demographics, or at least to different moods. I would never want to sit for hours at D’D drinking hot roofing tar, but at 3 a.m. when I’m craving an old-fashioned, there’s nothing like it. Just like Denny’s or IHOP. It’s fun to slum sometimes. ;)

  11. etinterrapax says:

    I should probably also have added that I don’t drink plain coffee, and I’m pretty strict about how often I let myself have S’bucks drinks because I can’t afford the habit–neither health nor waistline. So the Dunks sole attraction for me is the quality of their baked goods. My husband says their coffee was only ever good because they put shitloads of cream in it, and now they use a premeasured amount, so that factor’s mitigated.

  12. GenXCub says:

    I like coffee taste, but don’t like hot drinks. So Frappucino is my weapon of choice. The Venti Coffee-Light Frappucino with no whipped cream is 180 calories with 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of fat. This comes to 3 points in Weight Watchers, it’s pretty good for a novelty drink. I haven’t tried the recipe that I saw on Lifehacker last week on making your own frappucinos… that’d be like… cooking or some junk.

  13. Lars says:

    I’ve been to the new and improved Dunk. It’s mildly Starbucks in appearance and doesn’t appeal to the average Dunk customer. The prototype is in Pawtucket, RI near a large new stop and shop. Could be the location, but it’s awfully empty for a Dunkin’. And Rhode Islanders love their Dunkin’ more than any other group of people. I’m guessing DD will be back tracking on this experiment.

  14. Andrew W says:

    I was in a favorite cafe this morning (L’Aroma, formerly Torrefazione, on Boston’s Newbury St.) and saw a construction worker from rough-and-tumble Hyde Park order a “cup’a dahk roast, with room.”

    It reminded me that in all these coffeehouse battles, it really just comes down to quality product. Dunkin’ Donuts’ quality product is a cheap cup of jet black coffee put in your hand less than two minutes after you enter the store. Starbucks’ product is the store space itself; its coffee never comes close to the quality of that at independent coffeeshops, but it’s not a terrible experience to linger, to check your e-mail, or to strike up a conversation.