When we hear the word â€œregularâ€ most of us have the same idea of what that word means; itâ€™s the normal, typical, consistent and most common. It also signals the kind of customer most people want to have.
But at Dunkinâ€™ Donuts, it has an additional meaning â€“ which is, coffee prepared in the way that is most often ordered. Itâ€™s not on a sign or menu anywhere, but serves as short-hand for ordering coffee â€œwith cream.â€
Good Taste Committee (and nutrition) aside, Dunkinâ€™ Donuts is an unexpected case study in belonging. No matter what you may think of it, it is easy to recognize a Dunkinâ€™ insider and understand what is important to them.
Dunkinâ€™ Donuts opens at 5am, which tells you a lot about who needs coffee before the sun comes up (fisherman, students, landscapers, construction personnel, farmers, housekeepers, Wall Street traders).
Regardless of your order â€“ egg sandwich or combo-pack – nothing takes more than 2 minutes to assemble. Which is about how much time regulars devote to breakfast. They usually eat it on the run, and Dunkinâ€™ makes that possible.
Most franchises have a combination lock on the bathroom door, memorized by anyone who frequents that location. It rarely changes, so if you have to askâ€¦youâ€™ve identified yourself as a guest.
All locations brew a stronger-than-expected drip coffee that has surprised many of us who frequent non-franchised, more expensive, beaker-wielding establishments. The Dunkinâ€™ customer wants a legitimate coffee, a consistent experience, and is more than happy to skip the baristas / bells and whistles.
Dunkinâ€™ Donuts isnâ€™t in my usual rotation, but when I find myself inside one (a reality of New England life), itâ€™s pretty obvious whoâ€™s a visitor, and who belongs. I love how thereâ€™s always a couple of retirees in the corner, shooting the shizzle, or a postman standing next to a CEO; or a college student with her immigrant mother. The brand isnâ€™t positioned around a socioeconomic group. Rather, itâ€™s targeting a tribe with a shared affinity, despite its differences.
When I am there, I always kind of wish I was a regular.
Iâ€™d like to think that this desire to belong is a refreshing measure of a brandâ€™s success. Whatever you may think of a place, and demographics aside, itâ€™s interesting to notice that what unites our fans and followers can sometimes be surprising, and more revealing than any hard data.
Recognizing belonging â€“ where you yourself are a regular – feels like a worthy step toward creating those places for others.