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How Dunkin’ Brands gets its ‘doughnut mojo’ back James Scherer

How Dunkin’ Brands gets its ‘doughnut mojo’ back

As doughnut offerings are trimmed, exec stresses menu innovation, beverages

Dunkin’ Donuts continues to simplify its menu offerings in what the brand’s president of U.S. and Canada, David Hoffmann, calls an “overarching reset,” but menu innovation is slated to remain the “big driver” for the chain.

The flagship of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. is clearing space in its doughnut line, where Hoffmann said the brand is getting its “doughnut mojo back” by lowering its doughnut variety to 18.

While the Canton, Mass.-based chain will still offer 24 varieties in some markets in the future, it’s still a decrease from more than 30 previously.

“We’ve shrunk the amount of doughnut variety and we’re seeing a lift in those markets instantly,” Hoffmann told NRN in an interview.

For the options that remain, the company is hoping to offer the charms of an artisanal shop but in a mass-produced model. “Let’s not try to outdo a boutique shop, but let’s take their variety,” Hoffmann said.

He added that the key is introducing intriguing flavor combinations into what is already a successful production formula.

“Maple with bacon bits is a big one,” Hoffmann said, discussing a boutique flavor that Dunkin’ is currently testing. “How do you do that and do it at half the price? That’s where I think our sweet spot is.”

The brand is also set to launch a “spider” doughnut in October, which will include a glazed yeast ring, orange frosting and a munchkin on top.

Variety and innovative flavors aside, the reduction of the doughnut roster is not a surprise. 

The brand plans to have introduced simplified menus at 1,000 locations by the end of October in an effort to boost employee efficiency and maximize customer convenience.

“It’s one of the most aggressive simplification efforts I’ve ever been part of,” Hoffmann said. “We’re eliminating close to a third of our menu items with minimal sales resistance.” 

In August, Dunkin’ Brands announced plans to experiment with the abbreviated “Dunkin’” moniker  at a new store in Pasadena, Calif., as the chain also extends its national reach west of the Mississippi River.

A second “Dunkin’” is scheduled to open early next year close to the company’s heartland in Quincy, Mass., which will debut a redesigned store layout and other brand innovations.

“We’re racing to bring the blueprint together within the four walls of that restaurant,” Hoffmann said. “It’s going to be a concept store of sorts.”

Plans are not yet finalized, but the artisanal vibe that the company is looking to capture with its future donut roster is being considered as a main theme.

As of now, no decision has been made on the permanence of the Dunkin’-only moniker as brand leadership insists that refresh plans are fluid.

Despite potentially jettisoning the store’s signature food from its name, the reduction in doughnut variety and a pledge to be beverage-led, Hoffmann insists that drinks will not be stealing the spotlight.

Rather, food will remain a point of focus and pride for the brand’s 12,300-plus global locations, with drinks serving “as the attachment.”

“Simplification isn’t about saving your way to prosperity,” Hoffmann said. “It’s about creating room for growth to position yourself as a beverage-led, on-the-go brand.”

Contact Dan Orlando at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @DanAMX

Correction: September 29, 2017
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the maple and bacon bits doughnut has been launched nationally. It is currently in testing. The story has also been updated to reflect the correct spelling of David Hoffmann's name.
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