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Case Study: DUNKIN’ Leverages Micro and Nano Influencers in Rebranding Strategy

Even business behemoths are trying to capitalize on micro and nano influencers with smaller audiences.

Dunkin’ Donuts started as a single coffeehouse and doughnut restaurant founded by Bill Rosenberg in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950. Its goal back then was to “make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well merchandised stores.” And while its core mission has remained the same, the brand has recognized the need to adapt to the market trends and maintain its relevance. Key changes, coupled with effective marketing strategies, have helped the company become a veritable behemoth in the industry, and today, 70 years since its launch, Dunkin’ Donuts operates 12,400 restaurants across 46 countries.

Dunkin’ turns to influencers as it drops ‘Donuts’ from its name

Last year, Dunkin’ dropped the ‘Donuts’ from its name as part of a broader rebranding strategy. The shift aimed to focus on the chain’s beverage sales, which account for about 60% of its business.

“This isn’t a change for the sake of change,” Dunkin’ Brands CEO David Hoffmann said in September 2018, when the change was revealed. “For two years, we have been focused on evolving Dunkin’ into the premier, beverage-led, on-the go-brand and have been implementing what we call our blueprint for growth,” he added.

Preparing for the official rebranding in January 2019, Dunkin’ launched a marketing campaign, leveraging nano and micro-influencers.

“Sipping is believing” campaign

The goal of Dunkin’s “Sipping is Believing” campaign was to raise awareness of the company’s new coffee-first focus and its handcrafted espresso line in particular. The effort also aimed to improve Dunkin’s social media presence. It involved a variety of influencers with up to 50,000 followers. The majority of them were female, millennials or younger, located primarily in the Philadelphia area.

Highly localized, the campaign featured two hashtags — #phillyrunsondunkin and #sippingisbelieving — and targeted the on-the-go millennial who needs a hand-crafted rocket boost for their busy life. Most of the posts played off local pride in different ways, with photos taken in iconic places around the city.

Content mainly focused on being realistic and authentic, relatable to the audience, as well as positive and appealing to the sensibility of small influencer followings. Coffee was front-and-center while their signature donuts received little mention. While the brand message and hashtag usage remained consistent throughout posts, influencers were given room to create more personalized content.

Fashion and lifestyle influencer Vanessa Lace, who has just over 4,000 followers on Instagram, was one of the nano-influencers in Dunkin’s campaign. She uploaded a single image for Dunkin’, featuring her drinking an espresso in her hometown, Philadelphia. The sponsored post generated 744 likes and an engagement rate of 26.1%.

Fellow Instagrammer Reannoin Jean Celins, with 6,700-rich following, also posted a single sponsored ad. The post communicated the brand message but also had some personal input in the description. It gathered 294 likes and had an engagement rate of 9.9%.

Sherrie Tan was the most followed influencer of the “Sipping is believing” campaign, with a 55,000+ fan base. The Chicago-based cooking and travel influencer, recommended Dunkin’s coffee line in a post which received 608 likes and an engagement rate of 1.3%. Notably, the lowest interaction with followers was that generated by the most popular online personality.

The result

According to Mediakix’s analysis of 25 posts, the “Sipping is believing” campaign has reached approximately 1,136,000 Instagram target followers and generated a total of 21,975 likes, and 965 comments on the platform. The campaign’s overall engagement rate was 5.2%.

Additionally, resources from Google Trends indicated that from November 4 to December 28, the most related topic of Dunkin’  was “Coffee company” and the queries “Dunkin’ Donuts near me now” had a breakout search on Google during the campaign.

When less is actually more

Based on the number of followers, there are four main types of influencers — nano-influencers (between 1000 and 10,000 followers) micro-influencers (between 10,000 and 100,000 followers), macro-influencers (between 100,000 and 1 million followers), and celebrity influencers (over 1 million followers). And while the number of followers is one of the key metrics of evaluating the value of a social influencer, it doesn’t always mean the less is less.

In the last couple of years, brands’ attention to micro-influencers has increased dramatically. According to Google Trends, interest in the term micro-influencer skyrocketed at the beginning of 2019. But what’s behind this buzz?

Nano and micro-influencers are normal people who specialize in a specific niche and have a certain extent influence on a small and engaged community that feels like they know the influencer on a personal level. Micro-influencers are more trustworthy because they wield more influence.

Studies also show that trust is easier to establish when the influencer has fewer followers. More specifically, a 2019 research noted that the perceived authenticity of millennials will be strengthened if the influencer has fewer followers. No wonder that Dunkin’ turned to micro and nano influencers to reach its target audience and communicate its rebranding message in an authentic way.

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Written by Deyana

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