Fast Company's Web site regularly features exclusive content, but Linda Tischler's recent feature on Dunkin' Donuts' plan to compete against Starbucks generated a tremendous amount of feedback ("It's Not About the Doughnuts"). The article was even circulated throughout the Starbucks organization. Here's a sampling of what some of our readers had to add to the heated debate.
It's Choice, Not Just Speed
Gail in Illinois thinks Dunkin' Donuts still has some work to do. There's "horrible inconsistency between shops, which you mentioned," she writes, adding that "[when you order] a plain coffee with milk, the server decides how much milk, cream, etc. How is that better serving the customer?"
Jim in Ohio reminds us that there are more than two places to get a good cup of joe. "Your article on the coffee wars omits any mention of gas-station coffee, which with its service bars, latte machines, and low prices is a new and worthy competitor. Here in the Midwest, a good cup of coffee that's speedily available from clean surroundings for less than $1.10 is as valued as our less than $2.00 per gallon gas."
Gautam from Bombay, India (where there are no Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts), endorses Dunkin' Donuts' strategy and ponders Starbucks' response. "This is classic, textbook strategic differentiation. This should ensure that DD will find a solid place in the market. Of course, if Starbucks were to respond with a low-cost, portable line of beverages and snacks, and express counters to dispense these . . ."
A version of this article appeared in the February 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.