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The Wall Street Journal reports that Dunkin' Donuts will unveil a new marketing campaign today that will attempt to position it as more upscale than it traditionally has been perceived as being – but not so upscale that its core customers are alienated.

"While executives of Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' insist they aren't trying to emulate their Seattle rival, Dunkin's store makeovers include some similarities to Starbucks," the WSJ writes. "A prototype Dunkin' store in Euclid, Ohio, outside Cleveland, features rounded granite-style coffee bars where workers make espresso drinks face-to-face with customers. Open-air pastry cases brim with yogurt parfaits and fresh fruit while a carefully orchestrated pop-music soundtrack is piped throughout.

"Dunkin's challenge underscores how Starbucks, which has blanketed the U.S. with almost 7,800 tony locations, has forced quick-service restaurants to rethink store designs and menus. With Americans eating more snacks and fewer meals, Starbucks is taking food sales from restaurants as it encourages customers to visit its coffee shops around the clock."

Among the changes being made by Dunkin' Donuts:

• "Out went the square laminate tables, to be replaced by round imitation granite tabletops and sleek chairs," the WSJ writes. In addition, the stores now will have piped-in music (it never used to have music), and is adding food products such as hot flatbreads and smoothies.

• However, the company still wants to get people in and out of its stores in two minutes (Starbucks has a three-minute goal), and is not putting in wi-fi Internet access because it feels that such an addition is contrary to its customers' expectations.
KC's View:
It is our sense that Dunkin' Donuts is a lot more worried about Starbucks than Starbucks is worried about Dunkin' Donuts.

We think the company is trying to do something that isn’t just difficult, but maybe not even wise. Because Dunkin' Donuts always has been differentiated from Starbucks by being essentially a different experience…and we're not sure that trying to blur the line is a smart idea. Heightening the differences would seem to be a much more intelligent way to go, at least from where we sit.