Pt. II Dunkin Donuts vs. Italy’s Favorite Coffee

This blog post is a follow up post in response to last Tuesday’s post from Dunkin Donuts vs. Italy’s Favorite Coffee. We posted the below two photos and asked you this question in regards to two images that we took when in the CT airport the other week:

Why is it that everyone was in line for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee… but no one was in line for Cafe Lavazza – Italy’s FAVORITE coffee?”


There were some great thoughts posted on the blog, lots with REALLY valid points from branding to product consistency to customer service. Thanks to commenter Doug, we even got the view from his friend who works in the coffee industry (Starbucks to be even more specific). It’s interesting how his friend got all down and specific with the coffee in regards to the consumers preferring maybe a sweeter taste over a more bold taste… but we think Liz ultimately nailed it on the head. She wrote, “Brand recognition can even trump a superior product…“


Read it again, Brand recognition can even trump a superior product…“

About 3 months ago we blogged about the Law of Leadership, taken from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Jack Trout & Al Ries), and what we are looking at here with Dunkin vs. Little Italy is a case study of exactly this. This law essentially states that it is better to be first in someone’s mind than to be better.

Dunkin Donuts built a powerful coffee brand and became the #1 coffee in people’s minds (at least in the North East ;). Little Italy comes in and thinks, “Hey, I think I have better coffee. We offer, x, y, and z and it’s Italy’s favorite coffee for crying out loud! Heck, we should even tell people that by having it say so in our name.” And so we have little Italy trying to compete with Dunkin… The reason it doesn’t work is because regardless if their coffee is better, bolder, stronger, thinner, darker –WHATEVER it may be – Dunkin will always be #1 in the consumer’s minds that Dunkin has already reached, and they will continue to stay with Dunkin.

“So how does this apply to me and my business?” you wonder.

Glad you asked! Quoting Zach from our January post he says, “Most photographers that we have met over the years all come to a similar conclusion about photography and business. That if you have the best photos, you will get business. So, we spend all of our time, money and energy working on our craft trying to be the best, original, most creative photographer on the wedding photography planet, only to see jobs go to the guy who we know stinks! ‘But, look at his color, his composition,’ we say! ‘Why would you choose him over me?!’ Because of the Law of Leadership states ’it is better to be first, then to be best.’ What this law of marketing means, is that consumers don’t care if you are better, they only care about who they know, or who gets into their mind first. If that is not you, then it does not matter how good your ‘product’ is. They won’t buy it.”

So what does this mean?

As Zach said, “It is not nearly enough to have ‘better’ photos than the next guy. That won’t get you jobs day in and day out. Can you book a few jobs based on how “good” you are? Maybe. But you can’t sustain it long term without having this first law in effect. If you can be known to your prospects and get into their minds first, then you can win the marketing game. People will stick with what they have.”

What makes our point oh-so-much sweeter is as I (Jody) was taking a photo of Café Lavazza for this blog post that I was already mentally starting to write, a woman came up to me and asked , “Are you familiar with this coffee?” I turned to her with an abnormally big smile on my face (little did she know it was because I knew she was about to become the little red bow to my beautifully packaged blog post), and I said, “No, I haven’t.” She turned around, and walked right to Dunkin Donuts to stand in line. I could have hugged her… or at least bought her a crappy cup of Dunkin coffee ;) (Kidding, kidding!)

This woman was willing to stand in a long line for an average cup of coffee (and maybe a donut hole or two ;) because she was familiar with it.

As you drink coffee this morning, pass by a Dunkin Donuts, or maybe make the same kinds of choices throughout your day that this woman did, think about your own business and how you can be FIRST in what you do.

Thanks for reading!

PS. For the record, we got some of Café Lavazza’s coffee and it wasn’t very good… Italy has bad taste. ;o)

PSS. Make sure to check out the full Law of Leadership blog post for more insight.

**Remember, next Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks will go out only to newsletter subscribers! Make sure you are signed up for it to receive all the goodness that is shared only with subscribers.

  • Lauren Wakefield

    Excellent post! Zach and Jody = two smart cookies. :)

  • Jessica Frey

    Another thought-provoking post, great job guys! We don’t get Dunkin Donuts here in CA and it used to be a ritual for my husband and I every Sunday when we were stationed on the east coast…so yes when I travel and see one in an airport I head straight for the line…but only for the donut holes! ;)

  • MelissaFoscardo

    What a powerful message from a very real life example. Thanks, guys!

  • Ange

    I’m still not able to get the newsletter link to work :(

    • Jody Gray

      @Ange – not sure why it’s not working for you :( :(. We will manually add you in!

  • Brooke

    I’m not receiving the newsletter either… how do I fix it pretty please? :)

  • Gina Walczak

    I had a crappy mocha from Dunkin’ Donuts driving home from Florida last week. It was my only option on the toll road. I won’t buy from DD again–that’s for sure. Maybe I’m just abnormal. lol

  • Dianne

    I signed up for the newsletter a while back and haven’t gotten it either :(

    I love these thoughts…it’s so crazy how true all of it is. My question is now…how do I market myself like dunkin donuts? I don’t want to be Cafe Lavazza!!! :)

  • Sara Kauss

    Love that you blogged this. I recall a very recent conversation with y’all on this exact topic! Hope you are well :) Sara

  • ashley barnett

    Great post. Loyalty can trump a lot of things can’t it? And I think Dunkin Donuts iced coffee is pretty okay (for shame!) :)

  • Lani

    Thank you Z&J, great post. While reading and looking at your picture, I was thinking that the people in line may be there for doughnuts and not coffee. I came to recognize DD for their doughnuts, not for coffee. Personally, I’m a SB fan and I haven’t had a DD coffee so I’m biased. So, to me it seems that DD said ‘Hey, why not sell coffee with our doughnuts and double our sales!’ (brand recognition) Anyhow, great post again! Love you guys and keep it coming!

    • Jody Gray

      @Lani – interesting thought. Though most people do get coffee in the morning, not donuts, but you’re right about DD being known more for donuts than coffee, until the last year or so…They WERE the only place offering coffee though in the airport, short of Little Italy, so my guess is most peeps were getting coffee. Would be interesting to go back and see what people were walking out of line with :). Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Iz

    It’s all in where you are. Living in Italy, I am well aware that Lavazza IS Italy’s fav coffee. And just like in the US – it isn’t that the product is better. I can serve the cheapest, nastiest coffee that I’ve purchased at the dollar store – but if I have a Lavazza package sitting out where people can see it, they will compliment me on the great coffee. We’re all just sheep…following the crowd instead of making up our own minds. Personally, I hate Starbucks (they burn their beans), won’t do DD unless its the only option (don’t need donut hole distraction), and think Lavazza is way over-hyped (it’s bitter). I choose tea unless its a micro-roaster…

  • Kristin Nicole

    Love it!

  • JamieY

    Very informative post. Thank you! Signing up for your newsletter now so I dont miss out on such great info.

  • Kaysha

    I don’t always get a chance to comment on your Tips & Tricks post… But I always read them, and love hearing your insight! Thanks guys, your the best!!! :)