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Why is Dunkin Donuts failing in Pakistan

Why is Dunkin Donuts failing in Pakistan

Mehreen Zahra-Malik

In the Western world, Dunkin Donuts is one of the most profitable and beloved food chains to exist. Synonymous with breakfast, the doughnut and coffee specialising franchise has more than 12,600 restaurants in over 46 cities. However, in Pakistan Dunkin Donuts has failed to make an impression on Pakistani audiences for a variety of reasons.

Pakistani consumer preferences are different from the Western world

The Dunkin Donuts model has worked immensely well in the Western world. The chains are less so ‘sit and eat’ franchises, and more so ‘grab and go’ which works in it’s favour as it is primarily a breakfast franchise. There are a couple of issues with this model in Pakistan, however. Pakistani consumers don’t prefer to ‘grab and go’ their breakfast. Whereas that may work well in metropolitan cities with a high percentage of people in the corporate workforce or students, and cities were you are on foot most of the time, the same doesn’t apply in Pakistan. Pakistani’s have a strong sense of familial ties woven into the fabric of their culture, as a result of this, rituals such as sitting down and having a meal with your family or even your friends and colleagues, is favoured. Moreover, given the fact that most students and young professionals in the city use public transportation or other vehicles to get around, they don’t often have time to grab a meal or drink from Dunkin Donuts given it’s lack of a drive-through.

The perception of doughnuts in Pakistan vs the West

Doughnuts are seen as a breakfast item in the Western world, but the same can’t be said for Pakistan. Pakistani’s prefer their local cuisine for breakfast; halwa, puri, chana chaat, paratha, ect. Otherwise, they typically will have breakfast items consisting of eggs or toast. The Pakistani palette isn’t accustomed to starting it’s day with a sugary, baked good. In fact, the doughnut in Pakistan is viewed more as a dessert, and a high calorie one at that, rather than it is an everyday item. Therefore, the purchasing of a doughnut is seen more as a luxury or for a special occasion.

The different ‘coffee culture’ of Pakistan

Coffee makes up 60 per cent of Dunkin Donuts profits, but the coffee culture in Pakistan is very different than that of the markets Dunkin is thriving in. In the Western world, coffee is consumed at a far higher rate than in Pakistan. In Pakistani culture, although it is fairly common for people to consume coffee for breakfast and sometimes have a second or third cup during the day, there is a far greater ‘chai’ culture for the evening. As a result of this, the demand for coffee is greater in the Western states than it is in Pakistan. Moreover, coffee culture in Pakistan involves typically more than one person sitting down and enjoying a cup of coffee either for socialising purposes or as part of a business meeting. In the West, however, given the difference in the work and studying environment and greater availability of coffee chains, the coffee culture has evolved in such a way that people will oftentimes grab their coffee cup while on their way home or to the library to study. In other words, coffee is more a necessity for the Western world and less of a chance to socialise.

Pakistan is increasingly becoming a health conscious market

Today’s day and age is witnessing a new rise in health consciousness meaning more people are moving towards fitness and away from smoking, drinking and consuming ‘unhealthy’ foods. Pakistan is beginning to follow suit with an increase in healthy food chains showing up across the city and the rise of gyms and yoga and pilates classes. Due to this, people are opting to move away from foods with a high sugar and salt percentage. This has not helped the case of Dunkin Donuts in Pakistan.

The doughnut’s popularity has started to stagnate worldwide.

Due to the rise of a health conscious market and the increasing competition from other dessert companies and dessert items, the doughnut has declined as a dessert item of choice. This worldwide trend also applies in Pakistan; with the vast array of local desserts available as well as new desserteries opening multiple times a year, the doughnut is finding it hard to maintain its position as a popular dessert item.

Perhaps there may come a day when we see a resurgence in the doughnut and the Dunkin Donut franchise. Until then, however, the chain is going to have to work especially hard to cater to Pakistani tastes if it wants to be successful in the country.

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