Dunkin’ introduces online holiday pop-up

Discussion
Photos: Dunkin'
Nov 18, 2019
Tom Ryan

Dunkin’ last week launched its first-ever online pop-up shop, offering an array of “Dunkin’-ized” holiday gifts that can’t be purchased anywhere else.

Products available range from apparel, such as a holiday sweater, one-piece pajamas and joggers, to accessories, like scrunchies, peppermint-scented wrapping paper, a metal lunch box, a fanny pack and an electric guitar. The restaurant chain said in a release, “The search to find the perfect present for the Dunkin’ lovers in your life can now be all wrapped up.”

Dunkin’ is only making items available while supplies last, but is promising a return of the pop-up in 2020.

The company will offer a variety of other holiday gifts in larger quantities at participating Dunkin’ locations, including a new donut ornament and the return of its Elf on the Shelf ornaments — seen this year stirring a cup of hot chocolate with a peppermint stick. Peppermint-scented Munchkins lip balm will be available in a two-pack for $5.99.

While online-only pop-ups are somewhat unusual, retailers have commonly promoted online-only, short-term deals, which have earned a bad reputation due to the rise and fall of flash-deal and daily deal sites. The challenges facing flash and daily deal sites included a proliferation of similar sites, a stronger economy that limited the amount of distressed inventory and logistic hurdles dealing with limited assortments. Makers of cosmetics, footwear, apparel, sunglasses, watches and others in the luxury space still use online-only, limited-edition campaigns to complement in-store pushes.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do concepts such as Dunkin’s online-only holiday pop-up offer opportunities for other QSRs and retailers? Does “limited-edition, online-only” hold any more or less of a benefit to brands or retailers than “limited edition, in-store only” events?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"As to opportunities for other retailers and/or brands, the more 'cultish' the audience for the QSR, the higher the degree of potential success."
"...some of the better PR moves are just plain fun so “why not?” would be a more compelling question."
"As with any pop-up it’s the limited nature of the items on offer and the time the store will be available that are going to drive people to it."

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12 Comments on "Dunkin’ introduces online holiday pop-up"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Given the popularity and iconic status of Dunkin’ I can see this being successful. That said, it’s probably a one-hit wonder that works best around the holiday season. In-N-Out, which has something of a cult status, sells a limited range of merchandise which is very popular.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Agree.

I end up with more serious problems when they discuss “the Dunkin’ Lovers in your life.” They need cool, interesting gear wrapped around their logo that anyone might want — not the mythology of the highly involved brand enthusiast.

Dunkin’ mostly appeals to a soft (and very potent financially) brand loyalty — not enthusiasts. The only way to reach them well is NOT to believe they are enthusiast.

I’ve just been going over this with my consumer behavior students — shoppers are brand polygamous … The truth is they may prefer a brand but tend to buy many. There may be short period where they gain more enthusiasm, but those don’t last (and shouldn’t be the focus of marketer hopes).

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

It’s interesting — and smart — that Dunkin’ chose to do a “virtual” pop-up. It offers several advantages. They can create FOMO through scarcity demand modeling, i.e., “Act now. Supplies are limited,” especially since you can’t physically see the inventory levels. But interesting doesn’t always equal successful. Is there an unmet need for peppermint scented gift wrap? Is the world ready for peppermint lip balm? I guess we’ll soon see. As to opportunities for other retailers and/or brands, the more “cultish” the audience for the QSR, the higher the degree of potential success.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

There are some brands, particularly QSRs, that have a cult-like following and for those customers, branded, limited-time merchandise via an online pop-up shop should be a hit for the holidays. If this proves successful for Dunkin’ I expect we’ll see it back for the holidays in 2020, although I don’t think this is sustainable year-round. If Taco Bell could make a hit out of a branded hotel, then why can’t Dunkin’ sell branded electric guitars!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Expand your audience. Grow your reach. Tap into new markets. That’s what this is all about. Be everywhere with every product/service line that (could) make sense!

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

…and it sends the signal to casual Dunkin’ customers that something interesting is going on over there. In this case, it’s fun.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Absolutely, Chuck!

Scott Norris
Guest

Year-round, the Starbucks “You Are Here” drinkware line has been quite popular worldwide for the past two decades, both to hometown customers and especially for travelers. I still use the insulated tumblers I picked up in Guangzhou in 2007, and have a shelf full of glass water bottles from all over the country. Limited editions with geographic scarcity and not sold online = ensures I look for a Starbucks in any town or airport I visit and drop $15-$20 more than just the cost of a White Chocolate Mocha!

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

The reality is that this is all just a PR move for branding. But to the question — heck yes, everyone should try/do this, why not? It’s great opportunity to show off what we used to call the “top of the triangle” in terms of product assortment and perhaps attract a new audience. Plus, some of the better PR moves are just plain fun so “why not?” would be a more compelling question.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust
DUNKIN’ SCRUNCHIN’ HOLIDAY HAIR TIES … What’s not to love? I call Dunkin’s holiday pop-up products “affinity merch.” I know, not too fun or sexy, but my point is that first and foremost this tactic connects with consumers along the path that they share with the brand. In this case, it’s a sense of fun and perhaps prestige with fellow Dunkin’-ites. This reminds me of Taco Bell’s limited/pop-up hotel in Palm Springs or what Airstream is doing with AirstreamSupplyCompany.com. These efforts connect with core, loyal customers, signal to casual customers that the brand is super cool (or cheeky, or fun, or smart, or socially active) AND they get lots of press reaction and think-pieces like what we’re doing here. This feels like fan service. I imagine there are folks out their that really do love their Dunkin’ this gives them a fun way to engage. AND if they have a merchant-minded analyst in the mix, they’ll present an assortment designed to yield particular data and insight. The best part of this for the brand and… Read more »
Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

The operative piece here is: limited edition. In-store or online is secondary; no matter the channel, giving consumers something exciting, new and special (limited) is a tremendous opportunity.

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

We all know about the success that’s been had with pop-ups in the real world, so extending that idea to online seems like an obvious move. The timing also works well as people are looking for gifts at this time of year — they want to have things to buy and Dunkin’ is meeting that need with a mix of novelty and cult fandom. As with any pop-up it’s the limited nature of the items on offer and the time the store will be available that are going to drive people to it. Nothing to make you splash out on a Dunkin’ branded novelty like the pressure of it only being available a short while!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"As to opportunities for other retailers and/or brands, the more 'cultish' the audience for the QSR, the higher the degree of potential success."
"...some of the better PR moves are just plain fun so “why not?” would be a more compelling question."
"As with any pop-up it’s the limited nature of the items on offer and the time the store will be available that are going to drive people to it."

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