Dunkin’, the chain formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, announced today it will begin testing a delivery program with Grubhub in select cities, NRN reports.
The delivery rollout follows a year of moves by the Quincy, Massachusetts-based chain to shed its former image as a donut chain and compete with premium coffee retailers, namely Starbucks. In January 2018, Dunkin’ unveiled its “Next Gen” store, which offers a more modern design as well as a dedicated drive-thru lane for customers placing mobile orders. Dunkin’ made itself available for order via Alexa in 2018, too. And the chain dropped “Donuts” from its name, doubling down on its efforts to focus the brand on beverages and not on its signature treat, frowned upon by nutritionists everywhere nowadays. (Fun fact: Dunkin’ Donuts is largely responsible for changing our spelling of the word from “doughnut” to “donut.”)
The chain also did a massive product relaunch of its espresso, reformulating the recipe and proclaiming their espresso, in the words of CMO Tony Weisman, “is so good, you don’t have to go to Starbucks.”
The Grubhub deal is non-exclusive, as Dunkin’ also partners with DoorDash and will continue to do so.
But as delivery continues to become the norm rather than the exception, there may well be fewer folks who want to go to Starbucks anyway. The Seattle coffee giant expanded its Uber Eats delivery program in January in San Francisco, and will continue rolling it out to major U.S. cities over the next several months. It’s also worth noting that Starbucks has significantly more locations nationwide, though Dunkin’ is slowly but surely expanding out of its New England home turf.
Delivery may well become the ultimate battleground for these two companies. Post espresso relaunch, Dunkin’ is, in my caffeine-riddled opinion, on par with Starbucks in terms of quality (and better sometimes). Starbucks has nicer interiors, but Dunkin’ has better prices. Both offer things like streamlined drive-thrus and easy-to-use mobile apps. So whoever can master the most efficient, cost-effective way to deliver these premium drinks is likely the one who will come out on top, at least in the short term.
Dunkin’ hasn’t yet released information about which cities it will deliver in with Grubhub, or when that’s slated to begin. But one thing’s clear: Quincy and Seattle are in lockstep right now, and their race for dominance will only get more heated as 2019 goes on.