Dunkin' Donuts increasing its offerings

Dunkin' Donuts sandwichThis week, Dunkin' Donuts added more variations of chicken and tuna oven-toasted sandwiches to its menu in select markets -- for as low as $1.49 for a wrap.

The popular hang out for breakfast and beverage has been expanding its offerings for quite sometime and morphing into something more than just a coffee and doughnut place. You can now have all three of your meals and more there.But why would a chain that has a strong hold on the breakfast market risk diluting its brand by expanding into a different territory?

(UPDATE: Dunkin' Donuts spokeswoman McCall Goselin said in a phone interview that the move toward more lunch and dinner fare began in Feb 2008 in response to customer demand. The company is not worried about treading outside its comfort zone, because of its loyal following.

"There's a passion out there for Dunkin' Donuts," she said. "Customers come to us several times a day for great coffee, we want to give them more options.")

The company had said in a press release earlier that the new menu items are in response to "on-the-go, busy lifestyles and changing consumer eating habits and expectations". Chicken sandwiches will range from $1.49 to $2.99 for the initial pricing. Tuna offerings will be $2.99. But, of course, there's more to it than just offering more for less.

Restaurant sales have been extremely flat in the first three quarters, a fallout of the anorexic economy. The inflation rate at eating joints increased 4% while sales hovered at 1%, according to numbers provided by the Food Institute. Then throw in woeful statistics such as the ones released by Marketing to Moms last month. The study shows that some 58% of mothers are making more home-cooked meals to save money. Americans are shrinking their eating-out budget and chains are scrambling to increase their revenue, said Brian Todd, president of the Food Institute, in a phone interview .

And one way to do that is by expanding the menu.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic Consultants, told Walletpop that the move toward more lunch and dinner fare is a natural transition for Dunkin' Donuts. Competitors such as McDonald's and Burger King already upped the ante with their breakfast offerings, making the market extremely competitive. "So, it's their way of saying -- if everyone is coming into the breakfast market , we will look at lunches," Tristano said.

In the past few years the chain began selling bagels and breakfast sandwiches, so the equipment to experiment with variations of sandwiches was in place. Tristano said the menu expansions would help Dunkin' Donuts build on its brand and increase revenue by selling items that go for higher prices. It also gives them a chance to serve customers on different occasions, he said.

Judging by their recent store openings, they seem to be on the right track. The company is infiltrating the West Coast market and is also spreading its tentacles abroad.

And what does all this mean for you, Walletpop reader? Well, for one, if you are looking for a cheap and fast place for lunch, you might want to give them a try.

"The prices are the best thing about Dunkin' Donuts," said Krishna Mathias, a 41-year-old Somers Point, N.J., resident and a Dunkin' Donuts coffee fan, in an email.

I agree with Mathias, at less than $5, yeah, those sandwiches sure look like a savory deal.
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