Sneaky Dunkin’ Donuts found a cost-effective way to boost sales in Korea, employing a merciless tactic to entice bus-riders into disembarking and getting themselves a nice, coffee-scented coffee from one of the world’s biggest coffee-and-donut providers.
Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks have a distinct advantage in their branding — putting aside the fact that (as my bar-owning uncle told me my whole life) if you want to make money, sell to the addicted.
Many adults can’t resist the smell of freshly ground coffee — enter any Starbucks, or even walk by one to see if you can not buy a $4.75 Mocha Chip Frappucino after being exposed.
In Korea, Dunkin’ Donuts made novel use of this conditioning, in a setting one may not expect to be bombarded with the tasty, tasty scent of fresh coffee beverages.
(And in a place where you’d probably give your right arm to have access to a nice, sweet iced coffee.)
Buses were imbued with the intoxicating aroma, and what do you know? It worked, and quite effectively. Blog TheNextWeb posted a clip chronicling the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee-scented bus initiative (ugh, could you imagine if White Castle started doing that?) but the site points out that DnD took a leaf from Disney’s book in making buses smell good:
“As the video explains, Dunkin’ Donuts wants its potential South Korean customers to think coffee every time they think of Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s brilliant, it’ll work, but it’s also pushy and manipulative (aka nothing new) …Of course, this smell trick has been employed elsewhere, most notably by Disney, which utilizes a “just out of the oven” cookie aroma in Magic Kingdom. The difference here is that Dunkin’ Donuts is now coming to you.”
Is this totally unfair to the people being subjected to a coffee jones by Dunkin’ Donuts? Would the marketing technique work on you?