You may have heard the phrase "America runs on Dunkin' "— and the numbers show it's literally true. Dunkin' is the world's leading baked goods and coffee chain, serving more than 3 million customers each and every day.

Dunkin' has earned the #1 ranking for customer loyalty in the U.S. coffee category by Brand Keys for 12 years running. In recent years, Dunkin's innovation is to thank— from the Dunkin' app with skip the line ordering to the DD Perks program, the brand is constantly surprising and delighting users.

Ahead of his session at TAP 2018, Justin Unger, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Dunkin', spoke with us to share his approach to a world-class marketing strategy in 2018.

Question: Apps have become hugely important for restaurants and the food and beverage industry. How does Dunkin' view its app within the broader digital mix and what does more app adoption mean for the business strategy?

Justin: We view our app as a way to make our restaurants even faster and more convenient for our guests and vital for our member-centric approach to our rewards program. For instance, through the Dunkin' mobile app, members of the DD Perks loyalty program can place their order ahead of time and speed past the line in-store to pick-up their order, saving themselves time on their daily Dunkin' run. We're also able to recognize our best customers and deliver personalized and compelling offers seamlessly via the app. Our mobile app is just one part of our broader digital mix, which also includes our website, email program, digital menu boards in-store, online advertising, and social media channels. We also partner with DoorDash on Dunkin' delivery in a number of markets across the country. At the end of the day, it's about offering our guests unparalleled convenience to get their food and beverages at Dunkin'. More app adoption would allow even more of our guests to benefit from the features within our app, such as On-the-Go Mobile Ordering, mobile payment, and mobile-specific offers.

Question: There are millions of different custom coffee and breakfast combinations. As Dunkin' shifts further into digital ordering, how do you keep things simplified while accounting for individual preferences?

Justin: It's a delicate balance, and we're constantly listening to our guests to make sure that we're meeting their expectations in terms of the customization options for their orders. To that end, we recently added options to our On-the-Go Mobile Ordering feature allowing guests to order half decaf coffee, and also to select the amount of ice in their iced beverages. These additions to On-the-Go Mobile Ordering were driven directly by user feedback. App users can save any of their favorite orders so they can get their mobile order even faster next time. We want to make sure we're offering guests the full breadth of our menu of beverages, sandwiches and baked goods, while also keeping things simple so it's easy to place your order, pick-up in-store, and get on with your day.

Question: National Donut Day! During National Donut Day, Dunkin' did an amazing branding campaign with Lyft replacing cars with donuts. Given Dunkin' is a household name, how do you think about campaigns goals when it comes to branding versus action-oriented performance marketing?

Justin: We strive to keep Dunkin' top of mind for our busy, on-the-go guests, and ideally drive them into stores more frequently. Our partnership with Lyft for National Donut Day was a great example of this, where we were making our brand top of mind for people as they hailed a ride through Lyft, with the goal of enticing them to make a stop at Dunkin' to continue fueling their day. Lyft has been a tremendous partner and we look forward to building on the success of National Donut Day.

Question: How does Dunkin' prioritize acquiring and engaging DD Perks members and people who, quite literally, run on Dunkin'? What tactics have been most successful and how do you keep them happy and interested while also acquiring new users?

Justin: The DD Perks loyalty program first and foremost rewards our most loyal Dunkin' guests. This includes points towards free beverages, exclusive offers and the ability to leverage On-the-Go Mobile Ordering to place their order ahead of time through our app, and then speed past the line in-store. These exclusive perks make DD Perks a very desirable loyalty program to join. We're very pleased with the continued growth in the number of DD Perks members, which is now more than 9 million.

Question: How has craft coffee impacted Dunkin's marketing and are you focused on gaining market share of this vertical?

Justin: We keep a close eye on the coffee space generally, and also get feedback from our guests and franchisees on a regular basis to make sure we're meeting their needs, especially when it comes to our coffee offerings. In recent years we've introduced a number of more premium pours, including Cold Brew, Rainforest Alliance Certified Dark Roast, Macchiato and Americano. We've also added Nitro Coffee to our NextGen Dunkin' locations, which feature tap systems to serve our range of cold coffee and tea beverages. Dunkin' has been in the premium coffee business since our founding in 1950, and we'll continue to innovate to ensure we're meeting the news of our on-the-go guests.

Question: When it comes to customers, demands and experiences are almost always changing. Where do experimental channels, such as Voice or AR/VR fit in?

Justin: We want to make sure Dunkin' is a brand that's broadly accessible and offers unparalleled convenience for our guests. To that end, we have integrated our On-the-Go Mobile Ordering feature with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so guests can place their favorite Dunkin' orders verbally and then speed past the line in-store to pick up their order. We'll continue to keep an eye on emerging technologies to make sure we're reaching our guests where they are, and are allowing them to order in the way that best suits them and their individual lifestyle.

Question: What are you most excited for at TAP 2018?

Justin: I am most excited to connect with as many folks as possible at the conference. It will be a great chance to learn from some of the best in the business as well as share some of Dunkin's successes. Comparing notes is always beneficial and it will allow me to take a step back and think about Dunkin' and mobile commerce at a higher level.

Justin will be sharing even more insights about his learnings at TAP 2018 on October 4th. Registration is filling up, so be sure to secure your spot if you haven't yet!