The Digital Future Of Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts has always been a brand about, well, donuts (or doughnuts, if one is a stickler about proper spelling). “Time to make the donuts,” was the brand’s well-known tagline for almost two decades — uttered often and forlornly by long-time company mascot Fred the Baker. It was always time to make the donuts for Fred, because a donut and a cup of coffee were what the brand was about.

But times and tastes change; and donuts, while still beloved, is a more competitive space than it was when Dunkins’ opened its first store in Quincy, Massachusetts, 68 years ago — and a bit less universally consumed.

However, Dunkin’ Donuts is a company focused on its next evolution. Less than a mile down the road from where its first store hung out its first shingle, the next digitally reimagined version of Dunkin’ Donuts is now open for business.

Or perhaps it’s better to call it the latest Dunkins’ — because the brand’s newest concept store (the first of 30 yet to come) is not a Dunkin’ Donuts; it’s just a Dunkins’. The rebranding caused some concern among Quincy residents, who were the first to wonder if the new signs meant a new product lineup that didn’t include those signature baked goods.

“We’ve been saying in our advertising for over a decade that America runs on Dunkin’, so now the signs match that.”

Consumers hungry in a way that only a piece of rounded, fried dough with a hole cut out of the middle can fill have nothing to fear; the new concept store — and the brand-wide reimagining it heralds — aren’t about Dunkins’ doing less, but about the company doing more.

It’s still “time to make the donuts,” but it’s also just time to do some other things too.


Upgraded Digital Service 

Dunkins’ — like its oft-mentioned competitor Starbucks — has been pushing consumers toward greater use of mobile order ahead, and bumping into the same order-ahead issues that tend to plague quick service restaurants (QSRs): Even when the technology works to expectations and gets a consumer’s order prepared on time, the physical layout of the store is not built to accommodate the new era of ordering ahead. So, the customer who picks up at the drive-through still has to wait through the line of people ordering and paying; the customer inside the store still has to navigate through the customers ordering and waiting.

The new 2,200-square-foot concept stores rolling out this year seek to solve that problem by separating out the the drive-through lanes, making it easier for mobile customers to cruise through. The stores’ interior design mirrors that instinct at separation, with a separate order ahead queuing area.

The design also goes one step further through a series of self-service kiosks, where people can order without the help of a staff member, as well as a grab-and-go section with simple, pre-packaged items like yogurt, apple sauce and beef jerky. Because what morning commute is complete without the traditional cup of coffee and beef jerky offering?

The store has also gotten something of an interior design makeover to match its more modern infrastructure. The bright pinks and oranges that have become the brand’s signature colors figure prominently in the balloons for its grand opening — but are less apparent in the color scheme of the interior of the restaurant itself. Instead, there’s more a modern, polished wood aesthetic that many observers noted would not be out of place in a Starbucks.

The more refined design choices go along with an upgraded edition to the menu for customers: Cold brew coffee is now brought in by the keg and served fresh off the tap.

The goal is to build a better customer experience — one that speaks to a wider range of tastes, while at the same time offering an experience that not only meets the new expectations of the digital age, but exceeds them.

“It’s all about making guests lives a little more convenient,” noted Chris Fuqua,Senior Vice President Operations Strategy and Supply Chain at Dunkin'​ Brands “Customers can now pull into the mobile order area, say I’m here to pick up my order, give their first name and be on their way. They can opt to wave at the 12 cars still waiting in the drive-through if they want. And we are the only people in the industry who are doing this right now.”



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.