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Why Coffee’s the Hot Trend in the Restaurant Game Now


Dunkin’ Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) didn’t drop “Donuts” from its namesake chain’s name because it wanted a shorter moniker. It did so to better focus its branding around its real core product — coffee.

The move’s designed to subtly change how people think about the company, encouraging consumers to equate Dunkin’ with coffeehouse rivals such as Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). The change may seem minor, but it’s entirely on point: The company admitted in its 2017 annual report that hot and iced coffees were its most valuable products, not the baked goods it once built its business around.

The name change also comes at a time when McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and JAB Holdings — the privately held conglomerate that owns Panera Bread, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters — are also in the midst of concerted drives to attract more coffee drinkers. In this crowded playing field, consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to price point, quality, and experience.

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