- Dunkin’ just added popping bubbles to menus.
- Bubbles, like oat milk and Beyond Meat, are trendy foods that Dunkin’ embraced early.
- Experts say this is a clear move to appeal to young customers.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dunkin’ just added popping bubbles to menus, and it’s the latest entry into Dunkin’s experimentation with trendy food items.
Bubble tea, the Taiwanese milk tea drink with tapioca pearls, has surged in popularity in the last few years, even leading to a nationwide shortage this spring. Variations on the drink, including popping bubbles like the ones at Dunkin’, are riding the wave of popularity. They’re also now on the menu at Sonic, which is owned by Dunkin’ parent company Inspire Brands.
Dunkin’ has embraced other trendy food and drinks in the past. It added oat milk to stores in the summer of 2020, over six months before Starbucks followed. It jumped onto the plant-based food craze in November 2019, rolling out the Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich to thousands of stores, again months before Starbucks’ Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.
“Dunkin’ has been working hard to bring in a younger demographic,” Mark Kalinowski of Kalinowski Equity Research told Insider. “Part of that is putting things on menu that appeal to younger customers.”
He points to the avocado toast on menus as an example, a dish so associated with millennials that it’s become a meme, and promotions featuring teenage TikTok star Charli D’Amelio.
Kalinowski says that Dunkin’ looks to be making a conscious effort to draw in younger customers, who will ideally be loyal to the brand for years to come. Some competing brands have less of a need to concentrate on attracting young customers because they’ve grown that market over years, he said.
“Dunkin’ is always being inspired by different trends to create new and delicious ways to bring Dunkin’ to our fans. Offering innovative choices to our guests is a key part of our efforts to transform and modernize the brand, and we are proud to stand apart as the brand that democratizes trends and finds new ways to keep Americans running,” Jill Nelson, Vice President of Marketing & Culinary for Dunkin’ told Insider.
“When considering potential new menu items, our focus is on offering our guests authentic, high-quality options that first and foremost taste great. Our guests have made it clear that they appreciate that we offer such a wide variety of choices for customizing their beverages, which has encouraged us to continue to introduce ways to personalize and plus-up their favorite drinks. For example, we have introduced dairy alternatives like oat milk, and a non-coffee product Popping Bubbles, small flavored bubbles that can be added to any Dunkin’ iced or frozen beverage,” Nelson told Insider about the chain’s process for updating menus.
Dunkin’ is privately held and does not release quarterly financial results, but Kalinowski says he believe Dunkin’ is likely benefitting from the resurgence in sales across the restaurant industry right now.
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