Review: Dunkin' Donuts Shot in the Dark
Covers Products: Shot In The Dark - Caramel, Shot In The Dark - Mocha, Shot In The Dark - Vanilla
Announced in September, Dunkin’ Donuts Shot in the Dark is the second ready-to-drink coffee product to be launched via the company’s partnership with Coca-Cola.
Produced in Japan, the product is packaged in a slim 8.1 oz can and is available in three flavors: Mocha, Vanilla, and Caramel. All three of the flavors are lightly sweetened with sugar and formulated to have 80 calories per can. The product, a blend of coffee and espresso, ranges from from 127 mg of caffeine for Vanilla to 134 mg for Caramel, while Mocha falls in between with 128 mg).
From a flavor perspective, Shot in the Dark is similar to other mainstream, ready-to-drink coffee beverages. It’s milky and slightly sweet, with a slightly burnt note to the finish. The coffee is fine, but doesn’t taste like coffee mixed with espresso. And caramel, vanilla, and mocha are certainly some crowd pleaser flavors.
However, there’s nothing about this product’s flavor that’s particularly memorable. Sure, it has the Dunkin’ brand behind it, but the liquid itself is basically a middle-of-the-road RTD iced coffee.
The 8.1 oz can seems like a fine choice and one that’s on trend with the increasing number of canned nitro and cold brew coffees. While this product is neither, it should help Dunkin’ Donuts show up on shelves next to premium price offerings.
However, this being a Coca-Cola product, its sights are clearly set on making a dent into Pepsi’s Starbucks RTD offerings,rather than the cold brew, nitro, and super premium end of the coffee category. To that end, we don’t feel as though the design of this product is quite where it needs to be. The Dunkin’ Donuts brand will certainly carry some weight with some consumers, but the execution feels a bit messy.
Specifically, the “Shot in the Dark” and its associated coffee cup icon takes away from the brand equity of the Dunkin’ brand. Eliminating this design element and editing the four lines of text below it (does a can really need to say that the product is “delicious?”) would be a good starting point and would help declutter the front of the can.
Furthermore, we question the relevance of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand in association with espresso. Espresso is not something that the coffee chain is known for and emphasizing that aspect may potentially shift the focus to a call-out that’s core to a Starbucks product. Focusing in on classic iced coffee might be another approach to consider.
In the end, Dunkin’ Donuts Shot in the Dark is a fine tasting RTD coffee but, aside from the enjoying the brand equity of Dunkin’ Donuts and the distribution of Coca-Cola, this product seems a bit behind the times in terms of what it is offering and a bit too complicated in terms of how it presents itself.