How Amazon's Holiday Plans Inspired Dunkin' Donuts New Digital Promotion Blitz

How Amazon (AMZN) operates usually serves as inspiration for many tech companies chilling in Silicon Valley. But how the company does business could also spark the creative engines of execs at a major coffee chain based in New England.

Dunkin' Brands Group (DNKN) announced on Thursday its first-ever "Perks Week," which will offer the five million-plus users of its DD Perks mobile rewards and ordering app five straight days of deals. The event kicks off on Nov. 14 and ends on Nov. 18.

Does all of this sound eerily familiar? It should: Amazon held daily "Countdown Deals" that began seven days ahead of its members-only Prime Day on July 12. Further, the e-commerce king unwrapped this week its "Black Friday Deals Store," where shoppers can score deals on products almost every five minutes now up until Dec. 22.

"Originally, the idea came from this concept of retailers dipping their toes into branded time period [promotions]. We look at retailers like Amazon and their success with Prime Day and that's what spurred the thought, we wanted to own the day and dedicate it to our most loyal and best customers," said Sherrill Kaplan, vice president of Digital Marketing and Innovation for Dunkin' Donuts U.S. in an interview. If Perks Week proves popular, says Kaplan, Dunkin' is open to making it a recurring event within its broader marketing plans.

Here are the various deals that are on tap.

Dunkin' trying to bring some post-election good cheer to people.

Mobile Monday: The promotional blitz kicks off with a blast: Dunkin' will offer triple points on all purchases made via its new On-the-Go mobile ordering capability.

Times Two Tuesday: Buy or reload $10 onto a Dunkin Donuts card using Visa Checkout on the company's app, and receive an additional $5. Easy breezy.

WTFast Wednesday: Earn a free beverage when using On-the-Go mobile ordering. Just like the name suggests, this is really a pretty "WTF" deal for ordering a coffee or sandwich (WTF is millennial shorthand for what the, well, you know).  

Top Speed Thursday: A special offer for hot or iced coffee when purchased via On-the-Go ordering. 

Fun-Filled Friday: Make a purchase using DD Perks and earn 100 bonus points.  

New Members: The first 55,000 people who join DD Perks during this promotional period using a special code will receive $5, loaded directly onto the app. Winning.

Kaplan says to handle the potential influx of people coming in to claim their daily perks, Dunkin' will have extra people on hand at 150 of its busiest stores across Boston, New York and Chicago. The helpers will assist in guiding people through placing a mobile order for the first time, too.

Obviously, there is some form of cost to Dunkin' to give away free drinks and other discounts. "It's an investment in our future, our DD Perks members are our most loyal guests so not only do we want to make sure they feel valued and appreciated, but we want to make sure we recognize them above and beyond our regular guests," says Kaplan.  

But if it brings in new, more loyal digital customers -- which is a major reason why Amazon holds Prime Day, to attract more Prime users -- it could give Dunkin' a nice sales lift relative this year relative to its current guidance. It may even help Baskin-Robbins -- which has struggled in recent quarters -- improve sales a bit as there is often a Baskin located inside of a Dunkin' restaurant. Come for a free coffee, leave with a sundae, too. 

Dunkin' Brands sees same-store sales at its U.S. donut chain rising as much as 2% this year. At Baskin-Robbins, same-store sales in the U.S. are seen slightly higher this year, which Dunkin' reduced last month from a previous estimate for 1% to 3% growth. Earnings guidance was reiterated in a range of $2.20 to $2.22 a share.

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