In sync with dropping “Donuts” from its name, Dunkin’s breakfast menu seems to be moving in a healthier direction. Earlier this year, the chain launched its new Power Breakfast Sandwich, an LTO that “sets the table to offer healthier items,” says Mike Brazis, director of culinary innovation for Dunkin’. “Our Consumer Insights Team wanted equity in a better-for-you platform, knowing that we had a latent group of customers waiting for it.”
Protein is the power behind the sandwich: It has a full 24 grams in each serving, thanks to a veggie egg white omelet layered with a turkey sausage patty and cheese. Some of the components were already in-house, while others were developed or upgraded for the LTO, says Brazis. Execution was similar to Dunkin’s other breakfast sandwiches, so the launch happened relatively fast. “We’re challenged to move quickly to adapt to consumer needs,” he says. “We no longer have the timelines we had five years ago, but we do a lot of work [on trends] in pencil before going to pen.”
To focus on protein and keep carbs down, Dunkin’ worked with a supplier to develop a thinner, less bulky multigrain sandwich round. It’s baked with whole-wheat flour, quinoa and several types of seeds—chia, sunflower, pumpkin and flax. The seeds add great eye appeal, says Brazis, and the carrier fulfills consumers’ desire for less bread. The R&D team also worked on improving the chain’s egg white omelet, cleaning up the label with more nutritious ingredients. Dunkin’ doesn’t have a lot of vegetables in its pipeline because of its operational model, says Brazis, but the omelet now contains spinach and bell peppers as well as olive oil, adding color along with a health halo.
Dunkin’ sampled prototypes with a small group of franchisees early on to gauge acceptance. “We learned right away we had a winner,” says Brazis. The sandwich has an easy build, so training was minimal and operational accuracy was achieved quickly, he adds. Above all, a new menu item has to pair well with coffee—Dunkin’s No. 1 product—and this sandwich fit the bill. The marketing team decided on a January launch because consumers are thinking about eating healthier around the new year. At 370 calories, the sandwich appeals to dieters as well as protein seekers. “We do a lot of work kicking the tires before we turn the switch and go out to 9,000 stores,” says Brazis.
Expanding the platform
Consumers responded with their wallets: Sales following the sandwich’s introduction pointed toward success, says Brazis. Dunkin’ moved the Power Breakfast Sandwich from LTO to permanent menu item in April—a true testament to its performance. The R&D team is now continuing development against the “power platform,” recently debuting a spinoff LTO—the Egg White Bowl. “Initial consumer reaction has been very positive,” says Brazis. The bowls are a win operationally, too, as they use the same component build and heating technique as the sandwich.
Forty-five percent of consumers were motivated to order this sandwich, and 61% of those potential purchasers found it craveable from its menu description: spinach, onion and pepper egg white omelet, turkey sausage, and American cheese on a multigrain round.
Source: Technomic Ignite menu concept development
Dunkin’s sales were up almost 4%, and traffic was up 0.8% during Q1, when the Power Breakfast Sandwich launched. That sales increase was greater than Starbucks, which was down 1.6% during the same period.
Source: Technomic Ignite Transaction Insights