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America runs on Dunkin’… will China?

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Visit any Dunkin’ Donuts store nowadays and you’ll see signs that say something about how, in a blind taste test, people preferred the company’s coffee to Starbucks’. Yes, fine, the coffee is good, but have you tried the donuts? My God, are they delicious. I know it’s not “cool” to gorge on fried dough anymore, but try a plain stick, a glazed stick, and a chocolate glazed stick the next time you’re near a store.

After a failed first try stemming all the way back to 1994, Dunkin’ Donuts is attempting to re-enter the Chinese market, according to the Boston Globe. Its first foray failed in large part to poor business partnerships and a menu that didn’t cater to Chinese tastes. Given the 1.3 billion potential customers in China, though, Dunkin’ has revamped its strategy, altered its menu, and found an experienced local partner.

The first order of business was to “lower the sugar level in its traditional pastries like chocolate doughnuts to appeal to the Chinese, who prefer their desserts less sweet than Americans do.” It then worked up some menu items based on local tastes, “like mochi rings, chewy treats made of glutinous rice that are fried in oil, and marinated lamb sandwiches.” Dunkin’ and Chinese partner Mercuries & Associates did copious consumer testing to make sure everything appealed to local tastes.

The company is also finding it a bit easier to push coffee in China now that Starbucks has been there since 1999. Having to compete with Starbucks might be Dunkin’ Donuts’ biggest hurdle, though, as the Seattle-based coffee chain already has over 300 stores up and running. Be that as it may, Dunkin’ is planning to open 100 stores in Shanghai alone over the next decade, along with 50 stores in the Guangdong region.

[Thanks for the tip, Josh!]

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