August 25, 2019 | 77° F

U. students react to Dunkin' name change

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When Dunkin' Donuts was established in 1948, founder William Rosenberg sold his doughnuts for 5 cents apiece. His business began the decades-long romance between the brand and its signature pastries. 

But, after nearly 70 years, Dunkin' Donuts decided to drop the second half of its name. The company will be formally known as Dunkin' at all of its locations in January 2019.

This past Tuesday, Dunkin' announced via Twitter that the company's new name puts it on a first-name basis with its customers. While this is a nice thought, the real reason that Dunkin' is making the switch is its decision to refocus its brand away from doughnuts.

The company sells approximately 2.7 billion doughnuts and munchkins each year, and doughnuts will stay on the menu. Yet, a recent CNBC study states that beverages account for nearly 60 percent of Dunkin' sales, and as a result, the company will be emphasizing its drinks more than its food. 

This increased share of beverage sales comes as no surprise to students, as not many customers in line at the Student Center order doughnuts during the 10 a.m. Dunkin' rush. 

"The last time I ordered a doughnut at Dunkin' was about four months ago," said Shyam Patel, a Rutgers Business School junior. "I rarely get doughnuts from Dunkin'."

Dunkin's decision to transform into a beverage-led brand puts it in direct competition with Starbucks and other leaders in the coffee industry, but the company has some catching up to do in terms of its market share. Starbucks earned more than $22 billion in revenue while Dunkin' earned more than $860 million. In addition, a public data study conducted by YouGov revealed that only 37 percent of coffee drinkers would opt to purchase Dunkin' coffee, whereas 65 percent of coffee drinkers would choose Starbucks.

Unfortunately, students are not convinced that this name change is significant enough to drive sales away from its competitors and place Dunkin' at the top of its market.

Saleena Nival, a Rutgers Business School junior and avid coffee drinker, said that Dunkin's attempt to appeal to new markets fell short.

"I don't think that the change of (Dunkin's) name is going to have much of an effect on whether people will go there," Nival said. "Most people refer to Dunkin' Donuts as Dunkin' anyway, before they even chose to change its name. It all comes down to the quality of the product in the end."

Dunkin' is not the first corporation to experience an identity crisis in 2018. In June, breakfast chain IHOP changed its name to IHOb in an attempt to drive sales for its new line of burgers. In addition, just last week, WW Inc., formerly known as Weight Watchers International, changed its name to shift its company direction toward wellness instead of weight loss.

These two rebranding campaigns proved to be successful for IHOP and WW Inc. IHOP's burger sales quadrupled after its IHOb marketing campaign, and WW Inc. stock price rose more than 4 percent on Monday following its name change. But, Dunkin's decision to change its identity was not as popular with its consumers, as the company's stock prices only went up by 1 percent on Wednesday after the news was released. 

Because Dunkin' is now one of many corporations that changed its name in 2018, student consumers are becoming jaded about the conversation surrounding its rebranding decision.

"I think companies change their names to make noise in the lives of people who regularly experience a daily influx of information from the news, and from countless ads," said Victoria Gonzalez, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "When IHOP changed its name to IHOb, everyone thought it sounded funny and it caused a commotion about the reason why and what the new letter may stand for. In the same way, Dunkin' wants people to tweet, 'Dunkin'?! But it's always been Dunkin' Donuts!'" 

No matter how you feel about the change, it's safe to say that the iconic American coffee chain won't lose any business anytime soon.

Gopa Praturi

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