Starbucks, Dunkin' Going After Lunch Business

NEW YORK – Both Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. are taking steps to capture more of the lunch crowd, according to a Bloomberg report. New products launched by both companies are designed to boost afternoon sales after the morning coffee rush subsides.

"The biggest challenge is generating awareness," stated John Costello, Dunkin' Brands' global marketing and innovation president. While afternoon demand exists, the company is known primarily for its coffee and doughnuts. "Our mission is to get people running in the morning and to keep them running all day."

Starbucks began offering new sandwiches at 178 locations in Phoenix and Richmond, Va., on May 6. The test lineup includes a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and Swiss cheese for $5.95; a grilled cheese sandwich for $5.25; and a beef brisket and baguette for $6.95. All are prepackaged and then heated inside the stores.

The Seattle-based chain plans to introduce more sandwiches across the United States during fiscal 2015 -- part of its efforts to position itself as what Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead called "a destination for a quick, delicious and high-quality lunch."

Meanwhile, Dunkin' Donuts began offering a new grilled chicken flatbread sandwich for $3.99 this week. Its marinade is made with grilled and rotisserie flavors, and toppings include cheddar cheese and ancho chipotle sauce.

This isn't the first time coffee chains have tried to attract customers during non-breakfast dayparts. Some experiments have involved amenities such as free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating, along with other menu expansions. However, approximately 40 percent of Dunkin' Donuts sales are generated after 11 a.m., nearly the same as one year ago, according to the report. Starbucks has seen more success, going from approximately 50 percent of sales taking place after 11 a.m. to about 60 percent.

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