I broke the bad news to my six-year-old daughter, Olivia: Her favorite Dunkin’ Donuts item, the strawberry-banana smoothie, is going away.
That’s not all. The Canton-based chain is jettisoning varieties of bagels, muffins, and flavor shots — and its entire afternoon sandwich lineup. After years of expansion, it’s time for “menu simplification.” The official rollout, the most sweeping menu change Dunkin’ has seen in decades, starts in New England on Monday.
This bold move is all about efficiency. Dunkin’ leadership, under US president David Hoffmann, decided the menu had become too unwieldy. So Dunkin’ tested a shrunken selection at about 1,000 locations last year. Hoffmann told analysts in October that the tests went well: Fewer than 40 percent of consumers even noticed the changes.
The new menu makes it easier to train crews and faster to turn orders around. Happier workers mean happier franchisees — and, hopefully, happier customers.
SVP Chris Fuqua says Dunkin’ tried to eliminate many of the least popular items, or the most complex. Smoothies, in particular, required too many steps. (Sorry, Olivia!)
The broader context: Dunkin’ is trying to hone its identity as it moves into more new markets west of the Mississippi, and competes against the likes of McDonald’s (Hoffmann’s former employer until 2016) and Starbucks. The goal, as Fuqua puts it, is to better position Dunkin’ as a “beverage-led” and “on-the-go” company.
There’s another big change being tested: dropping “Donuts” from the name. Regardless of the result, Fuqua says Dunkin’ remains committed to selling doughnuts, up to 24 varieties. That’s good news, at least for me. I know a Dunkin’ fan who wouldn’t want to lose those Boston Kremes.
Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @jonchesto.