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What the Church Can Learn from Dunkin’ Donuts

March 24th, 2009
Marketing Advertising Blog — VuManhThang.Com

Here’s a great article by Michael Kelly, a young adult resource specialist for Lifeway Publishing, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, so, again, he can’t be accused of being a stick-in-the-mud, anti-missional, dogmatic, unloving, confessional Lutheran type of person. If these folks are saying things like this, maybe we folks need to listen, carefully.

Donuts is creaming Starbucks right now. Dunkin won the taste test, it’s
3 times cheaper, and the company is actually expanding whereas
Starbucks is closing stores every day. Dunkin is about to roll out a
$100 million marketing campaign to trumpet the results of the taste
test and try and put the dagger into the heart of Seattle. Some people
are saying that Starbucks has seen its better days, and that this is
just the beginning of the downhill slide.

I would propose that the church has something to learn from Dunkin Donuts.

reason we have something to learn is that we have tried to be
Starbucks. We’ve tried to be slick, trendy, and hip. We’ve tried to be
a place that is non-threatening and easy to come to. And when you walk
in, you see beautiful people in holy jeans and black glasses, all
looking very intellectual and hair-frosty. Additionally, we have tried
to make church a low-demand environment, much in the same way
Starbuck’s is. It’s low demand in that even though the basic premise of
the store is selling coffee, some people don’t even go there for coffee
at all. And nobody’s going to pressure them about the coffee. That
sounds familiar, too.

But guess what?

People like Dunkin
Donuts. They like that it’s not trendy. They like that it’s not hip.
They like that it’s not cool. You know why they like it?

Because it’s simple: It’s good coffee at a reasonable price.

It’s not fru-fru, latte, grande, frappa-whatchamacallit. IT’S COFFEE. And at Dunkin Donuts, they call it what it is. COFFEE.

like there’s a lesson in there for us as Christ-followers somewhere.
Now hear me say this – I’m all for contextualizing the gospel. But I’m
also for simply proclaiming what we have to “sell” rather than trying
too hard to at it.

And you know what else? The thing that we
have? It actually tastes good. Maybe the problem is that we don’t
really believe the gospel tastes good. We don’t believe it tastes good,
so we feel the need to pile alot of stuff ontop of it to make it more
palpable. Maybe if we really believed it tasted good, we would have the
courage to let it speak for itself, like Dunkin did, rather than trying
to help out the product so much.



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  1. March 24th, 2009 at 14:24 | #1

    Paul – Thanks for the link up and your kind words. And just so you know, I love me some Lutherans.
    McCain: Wow, I love me some Lutherans too. And I love, in a manly/Christian brother and sister way, some Baptists too! I have got to find a Dunkin Donuts and check out the java.

  2. wmcwirla
    March 24th, 2009 at 18:01 | #2

    Dunkin Donuts rocks! It was serving a great cup of coffee long before Starbucks ever blew out of Seattle and onto every street corner in Generica. It’s doughnuts are better than Krispy Kreme’s too.

  3. Brandon Ross
    March 25th, 2009 at 11:25 | #3

    Pr. McCain- Thank you for the observation, and as a “barista” who has worked at a subsidiary of Starbuck’s, I feel your pain. Starbucks is about an image, and not so much about the coffee. Attitudes of societal acceptance and self-justification marked the patrons of my store. They could care less about the coffee, and I know for a fact that many of them don’t even know what they were ordering! Again, it’s about the image…
    And as a concerned Lutheran Christian, who has seen the secularization of Christ’s church, I feel your pain. Church has become an image, and not so much about God giving sinners the means of grace. Attitudes of societal acceptance and self-justification mark the people of our congregations. They could care less about the Gospel, and I know for a fact that many of them don’t know the REAL reason why church exists!- A hospital in which the Great Physician has mercy on us poor sinners in need. But then again, it’s all about the image…

  4. R Keyes
    March 25th, 2009 at 15:03 | #4

    An excellent article. We need to be the church, we don’t need to “market” we don’t need an “image”—and this can be said both to the “we must be church growth” and the “we must be highly liturgical” crowds. Both groups are claiming that their “image” is the better one. Keep it about what it is about: Jesus, crucified, risen, and coming again.
    We need to actually share Jesus and His grace. Excellent. Thank you.

  5. Pr. Tom Fast
    March 26th, 2009 at 12:46 | #5

    Yeah, I agree and all that stuff. But would it hurt the Church if the Church basement ladies made a cup of coffee with a little flavor every once in a while? A can of coffee doesn’t have to last an entire year. :-)

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