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The Boston Globe reports that it isn’t just Starbucks that is feeling the heat from McDonald’s aggressive entry into the premium coffee business. “Free trials and slashed prices at both McDonald’s and Starbucks in recent months also have put increased pressure on … Dunkin’ Donuts, marking one of the fiercest stretches in the java war … And although Starbucks has shuttered shops across the country, the Seattle-based giant still managed to unseat Dunkin’ Donuts, which is in the midst of a nationwide expansion, as the best coffee in Zagat’s 2009 Fast Food Survey of more than 6,000 people … Starbucks is ramping up its efforts to woo back customers by grinding beans each time a new pot of coffee is brewed, instead of grinding coffee only in the morning. Last month, the company also launched a marketing campaign promoting the quality of its coffee and values behind the brand. Additionally, Starbucks teamed up with MSNBC to sponsor its morning news program.”

But Nigel Travis, CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, seems more focused on the McDonald’s threat.

“The real question is whether McDonald’s can sustain the kind of focus they’ve had for the last two months, putting nearly $100 million behind the coffee push,’’ he tells the Globe. “They can’t promote coffee forever because they’ve got lots of other products to focus on.’’

Travis also tells the Globe in an interview that Dunkin’ is seeing some customer habits change as a result of the recession. “There’s a sign some people are cutting back one or two visits a week,” he says. “And people are obviously trading for cheaper products, and that’s why we just launched a breakfast wrap at 99 cents.”
KC's View:
This is one of those business battles that is going to make everyone better…and the consumer will be the ultimate winner.