Not Your Average Cup o’ Joe

I’m sure most of you reading this right now have drank a coffee recently. And odds are that coffee was from either Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. But which of these two outshines the other? It’s hard to say. The Seattle-based Starbucks is clearly dominant in the Pacific Northwest, but is a lot less frequent in the Northeast, where the Quincy-based Dunkin Donuts prevails. However, Starbucks outnumbers Dunkin with over 11,100 and 7,200 in the U.S. respectively. With a bigger market, Starbucks rakes in approximately $13 billion in sales, while smaller Dunkin Donuts brings in about $9 billion.


Other than the clear geographical distinctions between the two, both companies go about dunkin-beats-starbucksmarketing their products in very distinctive ways. I’m sure everyone has seen a commercial for Dunkin Donuts before and could tell me that America Runs on Dunkin.  Dunkin tends to stick the typical style of marketing. They have more celebrity endorsements, TV advertisements and other marketing schemes. Take into account their branded t-shirts stating “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Starbucks” and the 2006 ad criticizing the language of Starbucks:

On the other hand, how many times have you seen an ad for Starbucks? You probably haven’t seen too many, right? That’s because Starbucks tends to base their marketing off of the experience had at their shops by making the time spent inside seem more luxurious than a Dunkin Donuts. This comes with a sort of word-of-mouth marketing approach in which many of their customers talk and tweet about the experience. Starbucks has proven to be more prevalent across all social media platforms, with more followers and posts about the coffee company (think of how many Pumpkin Spice Latte tweets you’ve seen). Both chains also offer mobile apps that allow you to pay for your purchase and receive rewards. The two diverse strategies are working for the companies, though. At the end of last year both stores profits had increased over 35%. With that, it’s safe to say there is no real winner in respect to their marketing approaches. Both ways are successful and seem to continue to appeal to the masses.

Dunkin may not be reaching as large of a market as Starbucks does, but its marketing strategies are keeping the company growing at about the same rate as their competitor. I also think that the coffee has a better taste and it comes at a significantly lower price. So, based on the taste, cost, how well they compete with Starbucks given their slight size disadvantage, and a Massachusetts bias, I would have to say Dunkin Donuts is the overall better coffee shop. (Sorry Starbucks fans).

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