Brand Battle: Dunkin' Donuts v. Starbucks | Street Fight


A Caffeine-Fueled Battle for Local Presence

But first — coffee. The essential morning beverage moguls Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks both boast fiercely loyal customers, but this battle almost went left. Starbucks is well-known for its digital efforts in other areas: loyalty, check-out, mobile targeting, push messaging within geofences—heck, it is the poster child for this last one. What’s more, its logo is one of the most recognizable in the world. The potential for Starbucks to easily outperform its competition is there, but the brand’s attempts at connecting with local customers dragged its Brandscore down into the almost-average median range among all the battles fought so far. Read on to see how the green-logoed queen of coffee’s approach to the more brass tacks of their local presence almost lost them this fight.

The Players & The Score

Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks both had ample opportunities to show their local marketing strengths in this battle, where Brandify analyzed the performance of 7,255 Dunkin locations and 7,000 Starbucks locations. Data for both brands was collected between March and September 2016, right before the popular hot-beverage season. The two duked it out for dominance across local data quality, SEO, reviews, ads, and engagement.

The final scores were:

Dunkin’ Donuts: 582                     Starbucks: 654

Battle Rounds: Data Quality | Local SEO | Reviews | Local Ads | Engagement

 The Battle

Don’t come between coffee lovers and their morning mugs of life-activating java. A location-responsive, accurate mobile solution will drive those zombie-eyed consumers straight to the most accessible coffee drive-thru.


Battle round: Data Quality

Like a perfect cappuccino, accurate data is worth it.

Starbucks lost steam in the data quality round of this Brand Battle, one of the most important details in local marketing strategy. Unclaimed locations on Yelp may have been the tipping point for Starbucks’ loss in this category: 87% of their locations were not claimed, compared to 67% unclaimed pages for Dunkin’ Donuts. (Across the board, those are both terrible metrics for global brands like these!)

Starbucks’ data quality problems persisted in addresses listed on Google — 31% of locations were inaccurate compared to 19% for Dunkin’ Donuts. Both brands had data quality problems with their stores’ address and phone number listings, with inaccuracies within four percentage points of each other in three data points: wrong or missing addresses, wrong or missing phone numbers, and locations that were not found in searches.

Starbucks had higher instances of address problems overall, as well as more not claimed and not found store locations than Dunkin’, which took its only win in this round, scoring 89 to Starbucks’ 83.

Winner: Dunkin’ Donuts

*Locations that were “not found” were not returned in any search results. Locations that were “not claimed” were returned in search results, but data about the location such as phone number and address was incorrect or missing.


Battle round: Local SEO

Where can we find the best pumpkin spice latte this fall?

Starbucks caught up to Dunkin’ in the second battle round comparing the brands’ local SEO strategies with a score of 56 to Dunkin’ Donuts’ 32. Both brands have a locator, but with no local pages, they are missing opportunities to showcase local promotions, discounts, and events.

Tired customers in morning rush hour traffic are certainly directed — probably via mobile — to Starbucks locations more often than Dunkin’ Donuts, given that 47% of Dunkin Donuts’ locations do not show up on Google and Bing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for the keywords “coffee,” “breakfast,” and “donuts”. Both brands have a locator, but no local pages that provide users with more information and context, helping them make informed decisions. Search engines gravitate toward the dynamic value that local pages provide — but brands must maintain those pages to ensure current information.

Starbucks didn’t raise the bar  with its store locator, but managed to excel anyway, compared to the competition. Brandify noticed that Dunkin’ Donuts’ locator uses an outdated version of MapQuest technology, earning Dunkin’ only 7 points compared to Starbucks’ 14 points. Dunkin’ also does not have a website that is optimized for the mobile user’s experience, and does not use GEO-IP to identify the location of users visiting their websites, forcing them to manually enter location.

In this round, there was one detail where Dunkin’ outperformed Starbucks on search page rankings. For Dunkin’ Donuts, 44% of locations show up in the first, second, or third results position in search results, compared to 36% of Starbucks’ locations. The small win wasn’t enough to pull Dunkin’ ahead, though, and the Munchkin-making brand lost the local SEO round with a score of 32 to Starbucks’ 56.

Winner: Starbucks


Battle round: Reviews

It’s hard to make a perfect cup of joe if you don’t know your customer!

Here is a chance for brands to really connect with customers. Customer reviews open doors for brands to make things right when mishaps occur, and they are a place for customer brand loyalty to grow — or drop off the deep end.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts nearly tied with starred reviews: Dunkin’ receiving 56% of reviews with four or five stars, and Starbucks with 55% of reviews with four or five stars. Brandify analyzed more than 8,000 customer reviews with the keyword “coffee,” and found another close match: Starbucks had 53% positive reviews compared to Dunkin’ Donuts with 46% positive reviews.

Dunkin’ tried to keep up the pressure with 10% more positive sentiment than Starbucks for the keyword “service,” but for overall sentiment, Starbucks’ score was more than four times what Dunkin’ scored. Dunkin’ lost more ground when Brandify’s analysis showed that the brand has 54% negative customer sentiment associated with the product “coffee,” and 57% negative sentiment associated with “donuts. Even with Dunkin’ Donuts’ devoted customer base watching for new locations popping up across the country, Starbucks won the customer reviews battle round with a score of 6 to Dunkin’ Donuts’ score of 3.

Winner: Starbucks


Battle round: Local Ads

Local targeting can be a latte more effective than a national strategy.

The most surprising detail that Brandify revealed with its analysis was that neither Dunkin’ nor Starbucks use locally-targeted advertising for its individual locations. That detail gained each brand zero points, and Starbucks won the advertising round for its potential to master local advertising, garnering 18 points to Dunkin’ Donuts’ 4 points.

From a national advertising perspective, Dunkin’ is trailing far behind Starbucks. The West Coast-founded Starbucks franchise scored 18 points overall for the success of its advertising efforts, 15 points higher than Dunkin’ Donuts’ score of 3. Starbucks also spends more money every month on desktop and mobile online advertising: $374,000 compared to Dunkin’ Donuts $50,000 monthly, according to SEMrush. On average, 98% of search keywords for Starbucks (keywords such as “coffee” and “breakfast”) ranked in the first, second, or third position on SERPs, and Dunkin’ lost lots of ground in its choice to skip using competitor keywords at all.

Winner: Starbucks


Battle round: Engagement

An easy pick-me-up: local social media updates!

The engagement battle round drove Starbucks’ win home, where the coffee giant scored a huge win over Dunkin’ in both local social and corporate social analyses: 23 to 2, and 18 to 1.6, respectively. Starbucks also saw almost 10 times the number of customer check-ins than Dunkin’ had across store locations on Facebook and Foursquare: Starbucks with 19 million check-ins versus Dunkin’ with 1.9 million check-ins. Per location, Dunkin’ Donuts had an average of 264 check-ins compared to 2,850 average check-ins for Starbucks.

On Facebook, both brands have employed parent-child linked pages, but Starbucks performed better with an average of one post every two days. Starbucks’ engagement and amplification on social media is 12 times that of Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks created more than 100 posts in 30 days, engaging more than 9 million people. Across all social media channels, Dunkin’ created only 38 posts in last 30 days, engaging only about 200,000 users, and the brand’s last Facebook post was in July! This inactivity and low turnout negatively affected Dunkin’s engagement score, made worse by the brand’s inattention to local profiles. For the 30 days analyzed, Dunkin’ posted almost no updates, significantly dropping the brand’s local customer engagement.

Winner: Starbucks


Brand Battle Winner: Starbucks


Brandify’s Recommendations for Dunkin’ Donuts

  1. CLAIM LOCAL PAGES & USE THEM! To start gaining ground on Starbucks’ success in data quality, Dunkin’ Donuts will have to make sure their location profile pages are present on all platforms (especially on Yelp)  and also claim local pages in order to engage with customers and make sure their brand is found online.
  2. OPTIMIZE FOR LOCAL: Neither Dunkin’s website nor its locator are optimized for mobile devices, creating a huge problem with the brand presence. The website could gain new customers by taking advantage of a user’s mobile location to automatically generate traffic to nearby stores.
  3. RETHINK ADVERTISING. Dunkin’ should invest more in mobile and desktop online advertising. Using location based keywords in ads is a good place to start, and the brand should consider investing in Google Maps’ local pack advertising to gain ground on the competition.
  4. CLEAN UP YOUR DATA. Almost 97% of Dunkin’s locations have a data inaccuracy or other problem on Facebook, including wrong addresses, wrong phone numbers, locations not found, and locations not claimed. Monitoring these details will help customers find Dunkin’ shops, and will likely improve customer sentiment about the brand.


Brandify’s Recommendations for Starbucks

  1.    ADD LOCAL PAGES. Starbucks is already stronger than Dunkin’, especially in advertising and customer engagement, and the brand could gain extra points by accessing the local dimension across these channels. This brand will continue surpassing its competition’s efforts by claiming local pages on Facebook, where 87% of Starbucks’ locations are not found, and other social media channels. Without local pages, Starbucks cannot connect local social media with local pages, which will boost engagement and improve customer loyalty. Starbucks should also enable the mobile location feature that sends directions to a mobile user’s device, and look for other ways to really engage local customers this season and into 2017.

The battle was scored using Brandify’s Social Data Matching (SDM) technology with data from various channels,* including Google, Bing, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare. Data was entered into the Brandify analytics engine to test the two companies’ local digital marketing footprint to determine a final Brandscore for each. The Brandscore is calculated with an algorithm consisting of more than 250 variables over 5 core location-based areas: Data Quality, Local SEO, Reviews, Social Engagement, and Local Advertising.

Street Fight and Brandify will publish a new Brand Battle each month.

*Other channels sources included in this analysis: Yellow Pages, MerchantCircle, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.

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About Brandify

Brandify is transforming the way businesses connect to consumers by leveraging location Brandify-Logotechnology and offering unrivaled personal service. Brandify has helped hundreds of brands understand and improve their local presence. Current and past clients include True Value, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Applebee’s, Black & Decker, and more. For more information about Brandify, go to