Dunkin Donuts launched in India - How will they do here? My Analysis

Posted by fshsfhsfh on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dunkin Donuts opened their first two stores in India yesterday (Connaught Place & GK, Delhi). I haven't visited the store yet, so my analysis is based on news reports and their menu available on Zomato (these guys are quick). They have been brought to India by the really smart folks at Jubilant Foodworks - the ones who have successfully cracked the business model with Dominos Pizza.

The Positioning:
In the US, Dunkin Donuts is like your neighborhood Halwai shop/Darshini with seating. The food and coffee are probably the cheapest ones available in the US and the place is essentially no-frills. In India, the positioning seems to be a little premium - similar to McDonalds in India (Guess we always value western brands at a premium). This is a smart business move as they can focus on offering good quality products at prices where they will make money, rather than trying to fight it out with the local Halwais. Plus they can charge customers VAT extra (14%), while showing lower prices on the menu card. Imagine the customer response if the local Samosa fellow charges 14% VAT on a 10 rupee Samosa.

The Indianization of the Menu:
The big coup they have pulled off is by offering the entire range of donuts as eggless (except for the Cake donuts). This broadens their customer base significantly and will appeal to a larger section of the customer base - Fantastic move.
I almost expected Dunkin Donuts to offer Indian snacks (Samosas and the types). Again they have been really smart about this and are offering an international menu with the tastes tweaked to suit Indian palates. This way they are positioning themselves as an international food joint, not competing with the local kirana joints and can charge reasonably premium prices at which they can make money as a business. Their menu is essentially sandwiches with various breads. They are taking on the Coffee Days and the Costa Coffees head on with their food menu, but I expect their offerings and taste to be better than the ones offered at the competitors.
Their Coffee is where I am most disappointed - Dunkin in the US is known for their coffee - freshly brewed all the time and served from the glass kettles. In India, they are offering only the mixed coffees - Cappucinos and the likes. Guess their assessment is that the Indian consumer is not yet ready for light dicoction based coffee and will definitely not pay a premium for it. They also offer Cold Coffees, Coolatas & Smoothies. The price points are head on with Coffee Day.

How I think they will do in India?
My assessment is that their Donuts will be a big hit in India - they will make Donut Baker and Mad Over Donuts feel that they missed a trick in the bag. Not being the first mover in the space will actually give them an advantage here. Expect the place to be packed in the evenings and weekends with families, teenagers and college kids.
As a coffee and hangout place, they will compete to some extent with the Coffee Days and the Costa Coffees. I haven't seen their interiors, but my assessment is that they will not be able to move the "Meeting Place" crowd from the Coffee Days.
I also expect their food menu (outside of Donuts) to undergo significant tweaks as they analyze customer behaviour and purchase patterns. My expectation is that Sales figures for their sandwiches will not be great in absolute terms, but will be far better than the other coffee shops.

Their Possible Master Stroke:
Other than opening new stores, the master stroke I expect them to pull off would be to leverage the Dominos Pizza stores and the super-strong delivery model to start selling and delivering Donuts. Essentially announce a partnership between Dominos and Dunkin Donuts in India, have a small Donut Kiosk in the Dominos stores and sell and deliver Donuts from those units. If they can get this partnership model right, they will be hugely popular and successful very quickly. Imagine families having the option to order Pizzas and Donuts from the same place with one call and getting it delivered promptly. This will become the default for Birthday parties and kiddie get-togethers. I am simply speculating and an actual partnership like this may not be possible for them to execute. 

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