Dunkin' Brands Versus Starbucks: Numbers Don't Lie

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I pledge allegiance to Dunkin' Brands Group , owner of the always-tasty Dunkin' Donuts. I'm not a coffee drinker (I opt for Bing energy drinks by Petey's.) But I love vanilla-frosted-with-sprinkles and chocolate-glazed donuts from Dunkin' Donuts. These visits are rare but always a treat. It's likely that your visits to either Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks are more frequent considering Americans have a love affair with coffee.

You will find many interesting stats below, including what percentage of Americans visit Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks, how often loyalists to each brand visit each month, how often Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks fans talk about the opposite brand on social media sites, and what type of people are most likely to frequent Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. 

Atmosphere and price
Before we get to the numbers, each brand's trademark offerings should first be established. 

When you visit a Starbucks, you will pay more for a coffee that's the same size as a coffee sold by Dunkin' Brands. You're paying for the experience, a different taste (not necessarily better; this depends on the consumer), and even the fancy names, such as tall, grande, venti vs. small, medium, large at Dunkin' Donuts.

In regards to experience, Starbucks offers a very clean, spacious, and comfortable atmosphere. It was the first coffee shop to offer this type of upscale atmosphere with Wi-Fi included. This led to droves of consumers frequenting Starbucks locations. Considering that people tend to stay at Starbucks for longer periods of time than Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks is able to sell more products. For instance, if you're working on a project on your laptop and it takes three hours, you're likely to go for a refill or a snack.

Dunkin' Donuts recently attempted to offer the same approach. There has been some traction, but it would take a long time for Dunkin' Donuts to be seen in the same light as Starbucks when it comes to atmosphere. This potential is also likely to be limited, which stems from Dunkin' Donuts attracting a more middle-income consumer who is less likely to work on a laptop while drinking coffee. 

Predicting your favorite coffee haunt
According to Truelens.com (a company that helps Fortune 500 companies understand and communicate better with customers), Dunkin' Donuts is most likely to attract social moms, sports fanatics, and family travelers. As stated above, it's also more likely to attract middle-income consumers. Starbucks, on the other hand, is most likely to attract college students, music enthusiasts, early adopter explorers, and higher-income consumers.

One of the most interesting stats for a Truelens.com study of 9 million public online expressions from Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks is how much loyalists for each brand discussed the opposing brand when talking about coffee brands.

According to the study, Dunkin' Donuts loyalists discussed Starbucks coffee 59.2% of the time They discuss McDonald's  coffee 16.3% of the time, Dunkin' Donuts coffee 14.4% of the time, Keurig 7.2% of the time, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts  coffee 2.2% of the time, and Caribou Coffee 0.6% of the time.

Starbucks coffee drinkers don't appear to be as obsessed with Dunkin' Brands coffee. When discussing coffee brands, Starbucks coffee drinkers talk about... Starbucks -- at a whopping 87.9% of the time. They talk about McDonald's coffee 6.7% of the time, Dunkin' Donuts coffee 2.4% of the time, Krispy Kreme coffee 1.4% of the time, and Keurig 1.3% of the time.

Based on these stats, it appears as though Dunkin' Donuts coffee drinkers might be experiencing some jealousy toward Starbucks' popularity.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee drinkers talk about iced coffee three times more than Starbucks coffee drinkers. Starbucks didn't miss out on the popularity of iced coffee, pushing its iced coffee brand to retail distributors earlier this spring. Starbucks also picked up on the fact that its followers are twice more likely to discuss alcohol than the general population. Logically, Starbucks launched its Starbucks evening campaign, offering beer and wine.

Up until this point, it would seem as though Starbucks is the coffee leader. That would be an accurate assessment, but Dunkin' Donuts loyalists do discuss breakfast menu items three times more than Starbucks loyalists, indicating that Dunkin' Donuts is making more progress on the menu expansion side.

Speaking of expansion, Dunkin' Brands is also expanding West, and based on early results, it's likely to see success. For more on this topic, you can read: "Dunkin' Brands Offers Significant Growth Potential." Now for more interesting numbers. 

Loyalty test and visit frequency
According to a study done be Experian, 11% of Americans go to Dunkin' Donuts. That's impressive. However, 13% of Americans go to Starbucks. Once again, whatever Dunkin' Donuts can do, Starbucks can do better. Additionally, 33% of Dunkin' Donuts consumers also go to Starbucks, whereas 29% of Starbucks consumers also go to Dunkin' Donuts.

In regards to frequency, Starbucks consumers are more likely to visit more times per month:


Less Than One Visit Per Month

1-5 Visits Per Month

6-13 Visits Per Month

14+ Visits Per Month

Dunkin' Donuts Loyalists





Starbucks Loyalists





The bottom line
Dunkin' Brands is a strong company with great growth potential thanks to its expansion into new markets, especially the Western United States where it has very limited exposure. However, at the moment, Starbucks remains the clear leader in the coffee wars. 

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The article Dunkin' Brands Versus Starbucks: Numbers Don't Lie originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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