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Dunkin’ Donuts: Creating a wow experience in India


1The Sweet Factor

Indians are known for their sweet tooth, and any option to satiate their sweet desire with international delicacies was perhaps guaranteed to succeed. Specifically, while donuts in India have always been around, the launch of has redefined the way donuts are looked at and perceived in India, with their restaurants centered around donuts and other delicacies!

Dunkin’ Donuts: Creating a wow experience in India
What started as a single restaurant in Quincy is now a global coffee and baked goods chain, with more than 11,700 locations in 43 countries around the world

Images Retail Bureau spoke to the team to find out about the genesis of the brand and its journey down the years…

2The Beginning

The story of Dunkin’ Donuts began in 1948 with a donut and coffee restaurant in Quincy, Massachusetts called “Open Kettle.” Founder William Rosenberg served donuts for five cents and premium cups of coffee for ten cents. After a brainstorming session with his executives, Rosenberg renamed his restaurant “Dunkin’ Donuts” in 1950. His goal was to “make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores,” a philosophy which still holds true today.

“What started as a single restaurant in Quincy is now a global coffee and baked goods chain, with more than 11,700 locations in 43 countries around the world,” says company spokesperson, Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc.

Talking of the initial days of the brand’s journey, the spokesperson says, “In its earliest days, Dunkin’ Donuts was focused on serving high-quality coffee and a wide assortment of delicious donuts. Over the years, we have expanded our menu to include espresso beverages, hot and iced tea, Coolatta® frozen beverages, sandwiches, bagels, muffins, and croissants. We’ve also evolved our restaurant design over the years to include digital menu boards, modern décor, comfortable seating and Wi-Fi for our guests.”

3Franchising Journey

Dunkin’ Donuts signed and executed its first franchise agreement in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1955. A few years later in 1960, Dunkin’ Donuts founder Bill Rosenberg became one of the founders of the International Franchising Association. The first international restaurant was opened in Japan in 1970.

On the best practices followed across all the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, the spokesperson says, “Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants work hard every day to serve our guests around the world our brand’s delicious range of high-quality coffees, sandwiches and baked goods, all with our brand’s signature fast and friendly service. Our coffee is freshly ground and brewed in our restaurants, so our guests receive a consistently delicious cup of coffee whether they’re in Boston or Bangalore.”

4The India Chapter

Head Marketing and NPD, Dunkin’ Donuts India, , begins on an optimistic note sharing the plan of action for 2016, “We intend to open 20-22 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in India and expand to newer cities in the country.”

“We launched Dunkin’ Donuts in India as we felt strongly about the relevance of the brand for Indian audiences and the differentiation it can bring in to the current food service offerings. The First Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant was opened in Greater Kailash–1, M block, New Delhi almost four years back, in April 2012,” he says, adding, “Dunkin’ Donuts was launched in India with a customized menu that was a result of more than a year of development by the Dunkin’ Donuts India team in collaboration with the chefs from Dunkin’ Donuts culinary team based out of the US.”

According to him, one of the first things that the brand did before its launch in India was the setting up a world class R&D kitchen and appointing best in class culinary resources to innovate a winning menu for India.

The brand, since its launch in India, has received excellent response from across the country – be it in metros or in small towns. Elaborating on this, Sarwade says, “We have received great response from all the restaurants across the 24 Indian cities that we have entered. The reasons are varied in each city. In the metros, we have seen consumers stay loyal to the brand because of their past relationship with the brand owing to international exposure. Whereas in the smaller towns, the aspirations of the youth, and the connect felt with the brand has made us popular among the patrons.”

5Chalking Out a Win-Win Strategy

Dunkin’ Donuts across the world comes under the category of a ‘restaurant’. In India, though, the brand had to carve a niche for itself and ensure that it did not fall in the category of either being looked upon as a café or a QSR.

Elaborating on the journey so far, Sarwade says, “In India, there are predominantly two popular destinations for out of home consumption – QSRs and Café. QSRs have been there for long and urban young customers seemed to have outgrown the experience as they now considered it infantile. On the other hand, Cafés are usually considered for formal social engagements and not seen as food places. With three different categories – Donuts, Coffee and Food, the first challenge for us was to get a differentiated brand proposition that could be a sweet spot between QSRs and Café.”

He points out, “Food consumption habit in India is very different from that of the western countries. For example, in the US, Dunkin’ Donuts is a morning brand where donuts are ideally a breakfast item consumed along with Coffee, but in India, they are considered as snacks or may be a dessert after lunch or dinner. Consumption out-of-home is mostly food in India. Hence, it was imperative to get an all-day part menu in place that has a wide spectrum of choices for customers throughout the day.”

6Customization for a Better Connect in India

Dunkin’ Donuts is an international brand and the core category offerings of the brand – Coffee, Donuts and Savory – remain consistent across countries but in India, there is a change. The offerings India are customized and there are certain additions that have been made to the menu based on local insights and preferences.

Sarwade reveals, “India is the only country where the brand is called Dunkin’ Donuts & more. Burger is a product that has been developed entirely for the Indian market considering the popularity of burgers in the country. We have been listening to the Indian consumers and have been launching products that meet the growing consumer palate. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts offers the newly launched value range of Big Joy burgers, the signature burgers such as the Tough Guy Burger and the Naughty Lucy Burger, as well as the latest range of “Too Much Burgers” which includes Crispy Double Corn, Potato Wedges n Pie, Spicy Grilled Chicken, Double Smoked Chicken and Double Mutton.”

Coffee too has seen some innovations in India. Sarwade says, “In a cappuccino dominated coffee market in India, we added a highly differentiated coffee called Bangalore Startup Coffee that is inspired by the South Indian filter coffee. Add to it an interesting twist to the cappuccino through Therapeutic Cappuccino and Tough Guy Cappuccino.”

7Marketing Initiatives

On the marketing initiatives taken by the brand, Sarwade says, “We are a brand for the evolved, extrovert and expressive generation. We engage with the young audiences on social media and invest heavily in print, OOH, radio and digital advertising.”

He adds, “As a brand, Dunkin’ Donuts appeals to the edgy, creative, ambitious and outgoing individuals and hence all our communication – from the product nomenclature to our restaurant design and the advertising – is customized to support the brand image and bring alive the positioning.”

To conclude, the brand has moved swiftly in India keeping tab of the ever evolving needs and preferences of its patrons and that perhaps makes it a preferred gourmet destination for the youth and not-so-old alike.

As Sawrwade says, “Since our entry into India, we have been focused on offering the evolved consumers an experience and a menu that complements their personality. We have innovated and developed various products to keep giving the consumers something new and exciting each time and have received good response from them so far.”