How does a brand that depends on customer routines respond quickly to a crisis like COVID? In a Beet.TV interview, Keith Lusby, vp of media for Dunkin’ Brands, discussed how consumers want to align with brands that are doing good in difficult times.

For Dunkin’, the routine of customers getting morning coffee on the way to work was greatly disrupted by the virus and had an immediate impact on their business, but the gut reaction was to focus on how to do the right thing.

Lusby will be a participant in this month’s IAB NewFronts

Early on, this meant doing what they could to adhere to the brand’s three-word ethos: smart, strong and kind. Kindness in particular helped to steer the brand in its initial response.

“Right out of the gate, we made a donation to our foundation, the Joy In Childhood Foundation, which serves to feed the hungry,” Lusby says. “Early on, whether it was kids in schools who weren’t going to get meals through the public school system, or people who need that assistance anyway, we stepped that up and made a $1,250,000 contribution to make sure that we could take care of customers.”

Safety measures within the store were also a priority, with Dunkin’ focusing on their drive-through policies, putting up plastic screens at registers, and investing in their app to make digital ordering easier.

“We try to do the things that make it better for the community around us and also better when people are with us.” Lusby says.

As far as what they have learned from their response, this crisis has reinforced the idea that consumers will never remember an overreaction, but never forget an underreaction. This means that making difficult decisions quickly is paramount.

“That’s something that will hopefully continue further on, post-COVID as we move forward, is the ability to be more nimble, make difficult decisions quickly, and move forward,” Lusby says.

In thinking about tone and messaging with consumers, the company has had to focus less on the product and more about informing customers about how their operations work. One example was doing local marketing campaigns around hours of operation and helping to guide customers through using the app.

“When you’re in a franchisee system across multiple markets, it’s not always easy,” Lusby says. “But I think that’s one of the things that makes us stronger coming out of all of this.”

This video is a preview in a series leading up to the 2020 IAB NewFronts.   Please visit this page for additional segments from the Road to the NewFronts 2020.  This Beet.TV series is presented by the IAB.