Saturday, April 14, 2012
Vegans Are Running from Dunkins
I recently learned that a Dunkin Donuts is going to open in my neighborhood. There was a time I would have danced a jig at the news, having grown up in New England on Dunkins coffee (you can't spit in Boston without hitting one of their thousands of franchises.) But as a vegan, I am conflicted emotionally about this news. You see, other than coffee, Dunkins offers absolutely NOTHING for vegans. They are too cheap, in fact, to even offer soymilk as Starbucks does. No, all we can take away from DD is a cup of black coffee. Unacceptable.
While I understand DD prefers catering to the millions of overweight Americans who love to stuff their faces with their delicious but highly fatteningdoughnuts, it is clear that in other ways they have recognized certain trends in the culinary market. They offer cappucino and espresso now--when they first offered these items, I thought, these have no PLACE in the Dunkin Donuts I grew up in. I maintain that if I want a frothy drink, I'll go to Starbucks. But they saw how much people liked these drinks so they offered them to challenge the competition. Why can't they bring that same business acumen to the table when it comes to offering something for the millions of us who have gone vegan, for whatever reason, health, ethics, etc.? According to the latest polls taken the Vegetarian Research Group, five percent of the people polled consider themselves vegetarian, and half of them call themselves vegan. Same poll also illustrates that 33 percent people polled "eat mostly veg." Those are big numbers--why does Dunkin Donuts insist on ignoring this demographic?
I am not arguing for vegan products on any moral grounds, though I certainly could when it comes to animal rights, of which I am an ardent supporter. No, I am making a consumer's case, that if you want to increase your profits, if you want to be ahead of the game in the marketplace, you need to address how to win over a segment of the population you could be making more money from. That is the bottom line, isn't it? $$$? I can only buy black coffee from Dunkins. Imagine if DD started selling vegan doughnuts or pastries? Chances are I would buy them--who doesn't want something with their coffee? And to have soy milk available would bring this New Englander great joy. I miss being able to order a "regular" (for those of you unfamiliar with that term, in New England, it means "with milk and sugar".)
At the end of the day, places like Dunkin Donuts are there to serve what the public wants. Shouldn't this company strive to serve the ENTIRE public? Is that too much to ask? Until they see reason and start paying attention, this new Dunkin Donuts won't see much of me. I'll keep ducking into the Safeway where a Starbucks stall stands to get my soy latte.