Are you a Dunks or Starbucks?

Are you a Dunks or Starbucks?

As I was getting my morning coffee at Dunkin Donuts, I was looking around and had a stark realization. Dunks and Starbucks are both very successful business models that serve basically the same products and yet have very different environments and price points. Coming from the South I had never given it much thought, it was pretty much Starbucks with Dunks just starting to develop properties in the area. But now, after residing in the Boston area for some time, Dunks is king with Starbucks just now making inroads here. It made me wonder why I didn’t have a favorite? Why do I patronize both just about equally?

And how does this tie into senior living? Employees of this industry drink a lot of coffee and coffee off-shoots and, as I go through the observations that I recently put together about the coffee shops, I think it will become clear how this relates to senior living.

Environmental Differences

While Dunks newer and larger stores may be furnished a little differently, most I have been in are furnished – with tile floors, a few metal tables and chairs, and some cardboard displays for products. Starbucks tends to be furnished in a warm relaxed manner just like your living room, begging you to take a seat, with carpeted areas, comfortable chairs, over stuffed couches, with wooden tables and product display stands.

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Product Variations

While both Dunks and Starbucks primary products are coffee based, there are some slight variances in selections available and other offerings. Dunks is breakfast based with a great selection of donuts, hot sandwiches, and bagel based menu items, whereas Starbucks is more pastry driven with selections of juices, fruit, yogurt and granola products.

Different Needs Different Destinations

I am a big fan of both Starbucks and Dunks and, while I can afford both, I tend to frequent them for very different reasons. If I am just picking up some coffee and donuts, taking the kids for a treat before school, meeting a friend from the town in which I live, or doing the late night “have to stay awake” run, Dunk’s is the go to place. You might typically see the retired patrons or those on the way to work sitting at a table for their morning coffee and some quick local conversation.

If I am meeting a client or a vendor, needing a quiet place to get some work done while on the road, relaxing while reading, or working on the next awesome blog, Starbucks is where I head. I usually see people with computers open and working or playing hard. I also see groups that meet every week at the same time, as well as those with a good book in a nice big chair.


While geography can play a part in the selection, the locations of both Dunks and Starbucks that I frequent are separated by a parking lot. That is not to say that when I am travelling, I will drive out of my way to patronize the brand that meets my specific objective for that trip, thanks in part to both having great apps!

How Does Your Market Stack Up?

So what is the senior living take away from this comparison? Mainly that each community is built and decorated differently and offers a wide and differing array of services and amenities, and, certainly, different price points. Of course, we have the vast differences of living and care in the major categories such as Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing Care, but there also exist an opportunity to have different types of communities within each continuum of living or care – in terms of quality, service offerings and price point/affordability. One of the main objectives for a successful project is to make sure that you are appropriately positioned for the target market to be served at your location.

This is where MDS can help. We have over 40 years’ experience in the senior living and health care industry and the saying “There is no substitute for experience” was never more appropriate. MDS has conducted over 2,000 comprehensive consulting engagements in over 750 markets in 49 states. Please give me call for your comprehensive market and financial analysis, as well as other senior living consulting needs.