This brew-haha is the latest shot in the war against Starbucks
America isn’t runnin’ on the Coffee Coolatta anymore – but Dunkin Donuts is trying to cool off furious fans with free iced drinks.
The coffee chain devastated coffee drinkers in March by revealing it’s dumping the beloved summer beverage in favor of its new Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee, which will be more of a blended iced coffee drink, and less a glorified milkshake. And to celebrate the the drink’s release this month, participating Dunkin’ Donuts will be handing out free 3.5-ounce samples on May 19 from noon to 2 p.m.
“Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee will offer our guests a more authentic, energizing coffee drinking experience compared to the Coffee Coolatta,” Chris Fuqua, Dunkin’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, told Moneyish.
Fans weren’t buying it at first.
“I’m legit crying,” tweeted one Coolatta fan.
“My heart just broke,” posted another disappointed sipper.
Me when I found out Dunkin Donuts is getting rid of their coffee coolatta pic.twitter.com/v9LbDpHj6x
— Morgan 🦊 (@Morgan_Rae12) March 24, 2017
The coffee coolatta is the greatest invention of the 90's. Crazy. I'm legit crying 😭😭 #SaveTheCoffeeCoolatta
— ShipMasterFlex (@KidNamedShippee) March 23, 2017
It’s the latest in Dunkin’s “coffee-forward” drive to become a bigger part of coffee-centric culture over just dessert drinks and doughnuts. Last year, Dunkin’ also began serving cold brew coffee. And the company has vowed to remove artificial coloring from its food and drinks by the end of 2018.
The Coolatta switch comes as the fight brewing between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks is hotter than ever. While Dunkin’ Brands stocks are up 10% this year and 25% over the past 12 months, Starbucks shares dropped 5% over the past year, and which has also seen sales trickle.
Granted, Dunkin’ shares took a small hit early Friday as its chief financial officer Paul Carbone announced he will step down on April 21.
Starbucks president and soon-to-be CEO Kevin Johnson blamed growing pains with its Mobile Order & Pay for slowing sales. Many stores are unable to keep up with both the demand of the pick-up transactions and the customers ordering drinks in person. Some mobile customers end up having to wait in line anyway when they come to pick up. And baristas filling a backlog of mobile orders get delayed in serving in-store customers, resulting in longer checkout lines.
The ‘Bucks has also been the target of boycotts by vowing to hire 10,000 refugees in protest of the White House travel ban, while Dunkin’ has avoided the fray. The refugee announcement “could have upset some customers, perhaps negatively impacting sales,” Credit Suisse Group analyst Jason West said in a report. “Our work shows a sudden drop in brand sentiment following announcement of the refugee hiring initiative on Jan. 29.”
Yet Dunkin’ has avoided getting political. “America runs on Dunkin’, not Republicans run on Dunkin’, Democrats run on Dunkin’, It’s America runs on ‘Dunkin,” Scott Hudler, the brand’s chief digital officer, said at the company’s media day this week.
But could a comeback be brewing at Starbucks? The Seattle coffee chain will make fixing its mobile order service a priority, such as now sending text notifications to let customers know when their orders are ready, to reduce congestion at store pick-up points.
It’s also luring back customers with perks like giving gift cards over text message, and has upgraded its food cases with new avocado spread for toast, “sous vide” boiled egg bites and gluten-free breakfast sammies.
And it might also pick up Dunkin’ customers furious about losing their beloved Coolatta.
— Ravi Gandhi (@RaviG92) March 24, 2017
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