Dunkin' Donuts airs details of its repositioning plan

The parent of Dunkin’ Donuts aired a three-year growth plan this morning that adds the "how" to the previously stated goal of turning the doughnut chain into a beverage powerhouse featuring sandwiches and other foods to go.

Among the particulars revealed in the Blueprint for Growth was a new “tender agnostic” loyalty program that rewards frequent guests for transactions regardless of how they pay for their order, a challenge to Starbucks’ system of providing perks to digital patrons. The new setup will be rolled out during the second half of 2018.

Dunkin’ Brands also said in the blueprint, released today to coincide with the company’s annual investors meeting, that it will outfit 75% of new stores with a drive-thru, possibly the updated version now in test at a single New England location. That format features a special express lane for loyalty program members who place and pay for their orders digitally. The company noted that doughnut shops with a drive-thru have sales as much as 40% higher than inline units.

As many as 50 units will feature the new high-tech design that Dunkin’ unveiled in mid-January. The prototype, in Quincy, Mass., features an expanded retail section where customers can grab fresh fruit, bottled drinks and packaged snacks. Also included is a tap system that dispenses nitro-chilled coffees, and the plan calls for the addition of self-ordering kiosks. The store also sports the new drive-thru lane.

Exterior signage on the unit presents the brand's name as Dunkin', without the Donuts, in keeping with the concept's plan to reposition itself as a beverage-led convenience brand instead of a doughnut shop. 

Dunkin’ set a target of adding 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, 90% of them outside of the brand’s Northeast stronghold.

Much of the blueprint addresses menu changes. Dunkin’ noted that it intends to complete the chainwide streamlining of its menu by April. The deletions will make room for the addition of a number of new products, according to the blueprint.

It noted that many of those add-ons will be beverages, particularly premium teas, frozen beverages and espresso products. Also in the test kitchen are new breakfast sandwiches and doughnuts that play off key holidays and other promotional opportunities.

All units will feature the Donut Dozen, a box of the brand’s 12 best-selling doughnuts. Dunkin’ has said in the past that it will offer preassembled popular orders that customers can just grab and go.

Another priority, according to the blueprint, will be improving and promoting order placement via smartphones. “Dunkin' Donuts expects On-the-Go Mobile Ordering will not only improve order accuracy and speed of service, but will also free up crew members' time, enabling them to focus on other operational aspects, including store appearance,” the document says.

Dunkin’ estimates that 30% of crew members’ time is currently spent taking orders.

Other initiatives for bolstering off-premise traffic include a new catering program already in test, which Dunkin' did not describe, and expanded tests of third-party delivery partnerships.

The company also pledged to foster sales of Dunkin’-branded retail products, which accounted for $700 million in revenues for 2017.

Absent from the blueprint was any mention of a push for afternoon traffic, a priority set by the franchisor just two days earlier in its quarterly call with analysts.

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