Food & Drink Brand Strategy Dunkin'

5 fast food trends from Dunkin’ Donuts Swiss CMO


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

February 20, 2024 | 9 min read

As part of The Drum’s Food & Drink Focus we sat down with Hamza Ayub, Dunkin’ Donuts’ marketing chief in Switzerland. As he prepares to judge The Drum Marketing Awards, Ayub reveals his five food trends to watch this year.

Dunkin Donuts and coffee

What's behind Dunkin' Donuts marketing strategy?

The iconic Dunkin’ Donuts orange and purple brand might be instantly recognizable in the US, but in Europe the coffee-and-confections shop is still building awareness.

In Switzerland, chief marketer Hamza Ayub is tasked with capitalizing on the latest fast-food trends to grow the Dunkin’ brand.

In a recent conversation with The Drum, Ayub told The Drum how Dunkin’ went from relative obscurity in Switzerland to now owning 24 stores with nationwide delivery and a TikTok following of over 44,000. The company was also one of only two Swiss organizations nominated for the TikTok Ad Awards for best performance (the other: Roger Federer and Trevor Noah for the Swiss Tourism Department).

Entry deadline for The Drum Marketing Awards 2024 is Wednesday, 6 March

In the quick service restaurant industry, a marketer’s goal often comes down to boosting comp sales (a metric that compares last year’s sales with the present year’s, in each store). The most effective way to do that, Ayub says, is to focus on maximizing customer lifetime value. Marketers can achieve this by “regularly curating unique experiences for customers that enable them to come back”.

They do so in a world rapidly changing brand world. Here are Ayub’s fast food trends to monitor this year.

1. Tech innovation

Ayub joined the donut behemoth in 2022. Under his helm, Dunkin’ has created AI-generated ads, introduced augmented reality through a cyber punk-themed store, and used virtual reality to train staff.

Far from resting on his laurels, Ayub is focused on moving the brand forward. “We can’t bank on the success of the past to translate into future sales... It is imperative for every brand with a history as rich as ours to go the extra mile to connect with the consumers of today and tomorrow,” he says.

When measuring the success of the marketing department’s investment in tech, Ayub says that the C-suite looks at performance “holistically” in terms of overall growth. “The consistent plethora of massive lines outside our stores are a testament to the results being generated from these campaigns,” he adds.

2. Brand collabs

Dunkin’ globally has seen some weird and wonderful brand collaborations, including Elf Cosmetics (featuring a coffee-scented lip scrub and a donut-inspired eyeshadow palette) and Sonic the Hedgehog. The strategy for Dunkin’ is to “establish points of parity with the brands they partner with and to create a point of differentiation with other companies in the industry,” Ayub explains.

Ayub praises Dunkin’s brand team for “truly having a knack for seeking out the greatest collaborations.” This is enabled, he says, by the global team empowering local teams to forge their own deals. In Switzerland, Dunkin’ partnered with ‘crunchy spread’ brand Ovomaltine and confectionery producer Ragusa, “two major beloved Swiss brands with extremely high brand recall,” Ayub says.

3. Brand loyalty

Along with brand collaborations, branded merchandise is also a key awareness driver. Ayub is behind the Swiss Dunkin’ watch, which drove footfall as well as some viral social moments. “Merch isn´t essentially a tool to drive sales. It is a tool to increase brand resonance and to engage customers on a deeper level that ultimately results in a higher customer lifetime value,” Ayub says.

This kind of brand love goes beyond merch. Ayub references the adulation of Harley Davidson by some customers, which can be deep enough for people to get the brand’s logo tattooed on them. “While that may not be merch sold by the company, it is serving the same purpose that the merch brings to the table,” he adds.

@dunkin.switzerland We willl be handing out 100 free DUNKIN watches to the first 100 customers who show up at 5.15 pm at the DUNKIN DONUTS store at St.Gallen HB. With these watches you can get a free donut with every iced latte. So make sure you are there on time ;) #dunkin #donuts #free #watches #coffee #stgallen #trending #fyp ♬ original sound - dunkin.switzerland

4. Platform shakeups

“Last year was all about the TikTokification of content consumed globally... it is no secret that TikTok was one of the most predominant weapons of mass proliferation in the advertising industry,” Ayub says.

But Ayub cautions that 2024 might not look so straightforward for marketers on TikTok. Earlier this month, Universal Music Group pulled its music off the platform in a damming open letter. “With the new shake-ups in music licensing, the rise of competitors and wearable devices, we are about to enter the platform wars again,” he says.

Ayub is also observing a “relapse into long-form storytelling for brands as opposed to the short-form content that we got used to consuming over the last two years.” Along with potential drama from TikTok towers, Ayub is “closely monitoring” the “cookiepocalypse” and plotting how to pivot channels accordingly.

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5. Pay attention to the weather!

The weather has a huge influence on what food is sold in quick-service restaurants. Marketers should always be monitoring weather changes to see how they can run reactive marketing or push certain products out at different times. Hot weather, rainy days and snow are key to keep an eye on, Ayub says.

Ayub advises fellow marketers to “take a hard look at your menu items to see if they’re best serving your interests because of the heat waves that transpired over the last two years.”

From fast food to sloe gin, the food & drink space is massively appetizing to marketers. Join us as we dig into some of the sector’s biggest trends during The Drum’s Food & Drink Focus.

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