Dunkin Fumbles a Great Growth Opportunity

Ariel Ariel
Sep. 30

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps #133 - Already Breaking Records. Check out the full article for more insights.


Thursday was National Coffee day, an amazing opportunity for stores to add users to their rewards programs via app. That's at least how I see it.

And this year the odds were stacked in favor of exactly one national chain – Dunkin' Donuts (or as the kids call it these days, Dunkin'). Why? Because they wanted to become a beverage-led company and donuts don't help there.

Oh, the odds were in Dunkin's favor because Starbucks didn't take part in the tradition this year and didn't offer free coffee as it did in years before.

That's a huge opportunity for Dunkin'. But...

The premise is simple - download Dunkin's mobile app > join the rewards program > get a free coffee.

But the app didn't work. Par for the course, at this point...

That's not to say there wasn't some success.

Dunkin's downloads started surging around 9am (EST) on Thursday. By 3pm Dunkin' became the most downloaded app in its category and by 6pm, less than 12 hours after the spike began, peaked as the 16th most downloaded app in the App Store.

Here's the thing, almost every other app that gave free food (or drink) for downloads made the top 5, at least.

The problem was, the app didn't actually work for many users sending many to Twitter to complain. And those complaints ensured growth stopped.

Ranks started sloping down right after that peak and while it's still the #1 in its category, it's moving down the ranks overall. I fully expect it to dip back to where it started, all the way down around #200.

Dunkin is not the first, nor last, to give something for free for downloading and using its mobile app. It's also not the first, or sadly the last, to fumble the opportunity and get negative publicity instead of amazing growth.

We've seen almost every big name in the industry go through this except for McDonald's. At least one company gets it right!

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Tagged: #business

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