Dunkin' Joins The Crowd, Offers 99-Cent Coffees Tuesday

Dunkin' Donuts is being coy. Marketing Daily's 2007 Restaurant Marketer of the Year plans to offer small coffee drinks for just 99 cents on--guess--Tuesday, from 1 to 10 p.m., which just happens to bracket the hours that rival Starbucks will be closed for retraining.

A spokesperson for the Canton, Mass.-based chain says the promotion is a celebration of Dunkin' Donuts having been named No. 1 in Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index for the second year in a row. Right.

But a press release about the promotion would indicate otherwise in the first sentence, which says DD "wants to ensure that no coffee lover is denied a delicious espresso-based beverage."

The move puts Dunkin' in company with many independent coffeehouses that are running promotions to take advantage of Starbucks' plan to close from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in order to refocus baristas on the art of espresso-making.

Several Marketing Daily subscribers answered our call for comments on Starbucks' latest strategic move.

"What they should conduct are 'attitude training' sessions," says Susan Goldberg. "As Starbucks has grown too rapidly, it's losing the ability to recruit staff with the right attitude required to deliver a great and consistent coffee product."

"I'm a diehard Starbucks girl, but you gotta get me back more by offering free wifi just like Panera and other competitors," says Susan Goldberg. "Perception is reality, and the perception is that Starbucks is too 'stuck up' to offer free wifi, and that's definitely taking business away."

"If this retraining returns the Starbucks experience to what it was several years ago, it's a good move," says Tami Anderson. "And I believe consumers will appreciate their transparency in admitting so openly that they've dropped off in service and quality and are taking steps to address it."

"Barista training is not the answer," offers Marian Van Poppel. "Starbucks lost their edge when they automated. While Starbucks maintains a quality product, the skill involved in creating it has died. Enter McDonald's."

"If you subscribe to the beliefs of behavioral marketing and customer habituation (as I do), this is a potentially dangerous action for Starbucks if there is no qualitative improvement or gift for the customers because of the 'inconvenience'," says Kyle Morich. "If customers who miss their coffee run that day are given some sort of reward, incentive to return, or proof of extra value, this move could strengthen the Starbucks base."

The Starbucks experience is all about consistency and staff attentiveness," writes Dyann Espinosa, "so any time spent on training is going to pay off for Starbucks."

Tags: restaurants
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