How Dunkin’ Donuts Uses Open Innovation to Get Ahead

Published Feb-20-12

Dunkin’ Donuts uses open innovation to enhance its dialogue with consumers and ultimately to promote its brand.

Dunkin' Donuts, United States

The Story:

How Dunkin’ Donuts Uses Open Innovation to Get Ahead Open innovation, particularly via crowdsourcing competitions has a number of food companies licking their lips for the opportunity they provide to connect with customers, receive product ideas at a cost effective price and enjoy some valuable and cheap publicity.

Collaboration with Consumers

Ben & Jerry’s, Walkers Crisps and Waitrose supermarket chain are just a few of the companies that have used competitions to discover new flavours and/or food products.

Another member of the pack is Dunkin’ Donuts, a company that has run successful competitions that allow fans to “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut”. It’s also not afraid to experiment with its competition formula and in the summer of 2010 asked its followers to collaborate on a playlist of summery songs to go with its Coolatta frozen slush drinks.

As innovations go coming up with a music playlist is not going to rock anyone’s world so to speak, but that wasn’t the point of this particular open innovation initiative. It was to promote the ‘mixology’ of its Coolatta drinks and to engage both a new audience and the existing one by getting them excited and talking about the brand. And to do that it came up with a fun and appealing concept.

Sounds of Summer

“Keep It Coolatta 2: Flavour Boogaloo” asked consumers to recommend favourite songs inspired by the flavours of Coolatta and summer.

The company sponsored a custom playlist on Pandora, the Internet radio service that gives everyone a chance to be a DJ by providing personalized stations based on listener preference.

All that people had to do was go to the Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook page and suggest their favourite summer song and which Coolatta drink it reminded them of. The promotion sparked many conversations on Facebook and Twitter as enthusiasts discussed their greatest summertime songs and the company’s drinks.

Winning a Bigger Audience

After a four week submission period that netted 300,000 new Facebook fans Dunkin’ Donuts released the mix as a branded Pandora station. More than 40,000 Pandora users added “The ultimate Coolatta summer music mix!” to their list of stations, and they spent nearly 14,000 hours listening to it.

OI Helps with Long Term Objectives

Though the branded Coolatta drinks were ever present Dunkin’ Donuts was not bombarding participants with advertising messages to push their products. It didn’t need to and in any case that route is lined with failure as the crowd does not like to be sold to.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a fan of crowdsourcing and social media to engage its audience. It listens to what its supporters are saying on social media channels which helps the company to engage with them in significant and meaningful ways. In so doing Dunkin' Donuts is able to pursue its long term objectives:

• Introduce distinctive promotions that allow the brand to be
distinguished by its willingness to engage in a quantitative and
qualitative way with consumers

• Highlight how the brand understands the changing needs of consumers

• Develop a fun brand through creative promotions and ideas that stand
out to social media fans and followers

• Keep the brand in the spotlight

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