Just Dunkin’: Dunkin’ Donuts to change its name
By DEE-ANN DURBIN
AP Business Writer
Wednesday, September 26
Dunkin’ is dropping the donuts — from its name, anyway.
Doughnuts are still on the menu, but Dunkin’ Donuts is renaming itself Dunkin’ to reflect its increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks, which make up 60 percent of its sales.
The 68-year-old chain has toyed with the idea for a while. In 2006, it released a new motto — “America runs on Dunkin’ — that didn’t mention doughnuts. Last fall, it tested the “Dunkin’” logo on a new store in Pasadena, California; it has put the name on a few other stores since then.
“Our new branding is a clear signal that there’s something new at Dunkin’. It speaks to the breadth of our offerings,” said David Hoffman, the CEO Dunkin’ Brands, the chain’s parent company, in a conference call with media.
The name change will officially take place in January, when it will start appearing on napkins, boxes and signs at new and remodeled U.S. stores. The change will gradually be adopted as franchisees update their stores. It will be phased in overseas over the next year, the company said. Dunkin’ Donuts has 12,500 restaurants worldwide.
The new logo will still have Dunkin’ Donuts’ familiar rounded font and orange-and-pink color scheme, which the company has used since 1973. The Canton, Massachusetts-based company isn’t saying how much the change will cost.
Dunkin’ Donuts has always sold coffee, but hot breakfast sandwiches and specialty drinks like the fruity Coolatta and Cold Brew iced coffee have become increasingly important to the chain. In the second quarter of this year, the company noted that overall U.S. store traffic was down, but revenue was up thanks to sales of higher-margin iced coffee drinks and breakfast sandwiches.
Dunkin’ says the name change is one of several things it’s doing to stay relevant to younger customers. It’s also simplifying its menu and adding dedicated mobile ordering lanes.
But changing the name of iconic brands can be a big mistake, says Laura Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing consultant.
Ries says “Dunkin’” eventually won’t mean anything to younger customers who haven’t grown up with the full name. Specific words are easier for people to remember and conjure emotional connections, she said. Having “Donuts” in the name is also easier for people in overseas markets who may not know what “Dunkin’” means.
Messing with iconic brands can also have consequences. In 2016, 15 years after replacing Kentucky Fried Chicken with KFC, the company had to issue a press release to combat an online rumor that it was forced to change its name because it doesn’t serve real chicken.
And IHOP faced some backlash earlier this summer when it announced it was changing its name to IHOb to remind customers that it serves burgers as well as pancakes. That one was a publicity stunt, but it annoyed some customers.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Chief Marketing Officer Tony Weisman said the company has done a lot of testing and doesn’t expect any customer backlash from the decision.
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” Weisman said. “It’s just going to feel very familiar to people.”
But Reis said even if doughnuts have fallen out of favor among a more health-conscious customer base, people already know Dunkin’ Donuts as a place where they can just get coffee and enjoy the doughnuts’ smell.
“There’s nothing wrong with still having ‘Donuts’ in your name,” she said. “Long term it was helping them, giving them a brand identity that was the opposite of Starbucks.”
Opinion: Survey of Young Adults Finds Troubling Lack of Financial Literacy
By Jack Kosakowski and Brendan Coughlin
Across the country, millions of students are returning to their high schools, catching up with their friends, starting fall sports and planning for college. At the same time, millions of families are trying to figure out how to pay for it all.
But a recent study shows that while many young people understand the need for education beyond high school to help achieve their goals, a huge segment is unprepared for the vast financial commitment.
What’s more, many families have only minimal savings accrued for what can be a massive financial decision.
The survey by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank found that an astounding 52 percent of high school juniors, 40 percent of high school seniors and 34 percent of college freshman said they are unprepared for managing educational costs and paying for college.
One telltale reason for the trepidation: the research found that a large segment has less than $1,000 set aside for higher education.
Indeed, the percentage of teens with less than $1,000 in their college savings accounts is staggering — 39 percent of high school juniors, 30 percent of high school seniors and 29 percent of college freshman.
Only 11 percent of juniors, 14 percent of seniors and 19 percent of college freshmen said that they were “very prepared” for managing the costs of college.
That is likely due in part to a lack of education about the costs of higher education. Well over half of each class agrees that they have not done enough research about how to pay for college. And a large segment of each class has either never spoken to their parents or spoken to their parents only once about paying for and managing the cost of college.
Other troublesome data from the survey is teens’ lack of awareness of the actual cost of a college education. For example, when asked the average annual tuition at a four-year private college, 58 percent of high school juniors, 44 percent of high school seniors and 42 percent of college freshman said that they didn’t know. Similar knowledge gaps exist in their understanding of the costs at public universities.
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research and polled the views of 500 U.S. high school juniors, 500 U.S. high school seniors and 500 U.S. college freshmen. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
The data suggest that efforts to educate high schoolers and their families about the ever-rising cost of higher education are not gaining sufficient traction. This is despite many public schools offering seminars for students and parents on financing college.
The knowledge deficit when it comes to college costs is unacceptable — because enrolling a young person in college is fast becoming among a family’s most far-reaching financial decisions, with all the attendant issues such as excessive debt load and career decisions affected by those costs.
U.S. News & World Report, which closely tracks tuition in its annual rankings, found that college costs have skyrocketed over the last two decades and continue their exo-atmospheric climb:
As the survey found, the large majority of teens today recognize that a degree is a pathway to success. To help position them for their future we would suggest that parents teach financial literacy at an early age and make plans together with their children to save for college as early as possible.
When it comes to college, spend time talking about what your child wants to get out of it and help them come up with a plan that works best for their financial future. Help them put college costs into context. One way to do so would be to calculate what they can expect to pay each month after they graduate.
Following these simple tips can go a long way but these results make it clear that the cost of college and the effect it can have on a student’s future needs to be a priority conversation beginning at an earlier age.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Jack Kosakowski is president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. Brendan Coughlin is the head of consumer deposits and lending at Citizens Bank. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Finding a Fix for Fannie and Freddie
By Rep. French Hill
It’s been 10 years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), entered conservatorship and, as of today, there are no set plans in action to unwind them.
The longer they sit in conservatorship, the more taxpayers must pay.
For years, Fannie and Freddie have continued to push the boundaries of their mission and, even after the 2008 bailout and increased government scrutiny, they continue to violate their charters — a systemic problem that’s been continuing since the 1980s.
But this isn’t new. In May 1987, I wrote an op-ed in The Dallas Morning News criticizing GSEs for straying away from their initial affordable housing mission. In that piece, I called on the 100th Congress to “re-evaluate the need to expand the role of these federally sponsored housing agencies.” And here we are, more than 30 years later, still having the same conversation.
While GSEs remain in conservatorship, taxpayers continue to pay for Fannie and Freddie’s bailout — and extravagances. As recently as February 2018, Fannie and Freddie required an additional $4 billion infusion of taxpayer cash, bringing the total bailout cost to more than $190 billion. Despite this monetary assistance, though, GSEs continue to spend recklessly. Fannie Mae just constructed new headquarters that cost $700 million. Both of these wards of the state redundantly are spending significant amounts on state-of-the-art technology — with which community banks and other private lenders cannot compete — only contributing to GSEs dominant market share.
Additionally, as I outlined in an August letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt, GSEs have ventured into new activities and product offerings that have raised questions regarding their proper role in the market. Examples include the integrated mortgage insurance, lines of credit to non-banks and lobbying members of Congress. The letter asked specific questions related to each of these oversight infringements. I received a response from the director in September; however, I still seek additional clarification to some insufficient answers.
This week the House Financial Services Committee is holding a hearing with the FHFA director Inspector General Laura Wertheimer as well as the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I look forward to obtaining more responsive answers.
Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has long been an advocate for housing finance reform. Though he will be retiring at the end of this Congress, Hensarling continues to be a leader in this arena and recently proposed bipartisan legislation with Congressman John Delaney, D-Maryland.
His legislation offers improvements to the current housing finance model by increasing liquidity and lowering systems cost. I am hopeful that we will see action in both the House and Senate that promotes meaningful housing finance reform using Hensarling’s draft ideas as inspiration.
Fannie and Freddie continue to push the envelope on what is allowed per the guidelines of their charter. This has only hurt taxpayers while continuing to hinder the private sector. It falls upon Congress, as I’ve been saying for over 30 years, to ensure the GSEs are executing their mission within the confines of their charter.
I urge my fellow colleagues in the House Financial Services Committee to work to obtain the answers we need and that together we can craft a proposal to have an effective secondary mortgage market that benefit homebuyers, taxpayers and the financial industry.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, is whip of the Financial Services Committee and a former commercial banker and investment manager. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Safety Versus Speed — Drug and Device Approval Options
By Robert Graboyes
Safety is relative, and whatever quantum of safety we achieve comes with its own perils. The federal government, through agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, strives for — but cannot guarantee — patient safety. There’s a terrible tradeoff between relative safety and opportunities to save the dying, heal the sick, and relieve those in pain. Ban a drug, or take years approving it, and those it could help may suffer.
At present, FDA policy applies uniformly to the entire population. Once a drug is approved, everyone can get it (perhaps with a licensed provider’s signature). Before approval, no one can get it. There are exceptions, like “compassionate use,” whereby grievously ill patients request access to a drug midway through the approval process. But generally, it’s thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down nationwide. There’s a certain ease and simplicity to this rule, but it’s by no means the only possibility, and not necessarily optimal.
Being open to some loosening of regulatory constraints, I’m occasionally asked whether I think the market for drugs should be “unregulated.” I don’t and know very few policy analysts (if any) who do. On the rare occasion where someone asks about “unregulated” medicine, I recommend that they take a look at the peculiar history of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley.
Brinkley pioneered talk radio in the 1920s and 1930s as a tool for persuading a large potential clientele that they were suffering from erectile dysfunction and impotence. His freakish treatments centered on transplanting goat testicles and glands into human patients — which likely resulted in an unknown number of patient deaths.
Eventually, the Kansas medical licensing authorities, the Federal Communications Commission, the voters of Kansas, the American Medical Association, the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department, and the Mexican army combined to end his strange career. Before doing so, however, his radio stations — between homilies promoting his clinics — introduced America to some of the century’s top country-and-western performing artists: Patsy Montana, Red Foley, Gene Autry, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.
But I digress; back to the issue at hand regarding the speed and efficiency (or lack thereof) on the regulatory spectrum. In some cases, colleagues note that safety can sometimes be encouraged more by ex post liability law (harm someone, and you’ll pay) than by ex ante regulation (don’t sell this drug). There are pitfalls to ex post restitution — manufacturers may have limited resources and limited legal liability.
A more modest approach is Bartley Madden’s “free to choose medicine,” described at FreeToChooseMedicine.com. Under this idea, the FDA would still conduct multiphase drug approvals as it does at present. But midway through the process, patients could gain access to not-yet-approved drugs. This would be on an informed-consent basis. Patients, on the advice of medical professionals, could choose to jump the gun, so to speak. In effect, this would be compassionate-use-for-all — perhaps shedding much of the cumbersome paperwork that has traditionally discouraged compassionate use.
Still another idea is that of international reciprocity. At present many of the countries of Western Europe have reciprocal approval arrangements. Once one country’s agency approves a drug or device, the other signatories open their markets to that drug or device. Some have suggested that the United States enter into such reciprocal arrangements with a limited set of countries (perhaps with Canada and the European Union).
Perhaps a marriage of reciprocity and the free-to-choose model would have some appeal. An American patient (upon her physician’s advice) might gain access to a drug approved for use by, say, the European Union but not yet by the FDA. Presumably, there would be some process for assuring that the patient is aware that she is using a drug not yet approved by the FDA.
Still another idea, adaptive licensing, would confer FDA approval earliest to the sickest patients — the terminally ill or those in severe, chronic pain, for example. Eventually, aided by data from the sickest cohort, approval would be conferred in stages, with the sicker patients gaining access earlier.
Keep in mind that we’re never likely to reach a final destination — an endpoint for policy. Wherever policy settles down, there will always be arguments for slowing down and speeding up the approval process.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Robert Graboyes is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he focuses on technological innovation in health care. He is the author of “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care” and has taught health economics at five universities. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
The blissful and bizarre world of ASMR
September 24, 2018
Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Shenandoah University
Craig Richard does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Have you ever stumbled upon an hour-long online video of someone folding napkins? Or maybe crinkling paper, sorting a thimble collection or pretending to give the viewer an ear exam? They’re called ASMR videos and millions of people love them and consider watching them a fantastic way to relax. Other viewers count them among the strangest things on the internet.
Cutting soap is a popular subject for ASMR videos.
So are they relaxing or strange? I think they are both, which is why I have been fascinated with trying to understand ASMR for the past five years. In researching my new book “Brain Tingles,” I explored the many mysteries about ASMR as well as best practices for incorporating ASMR into various aspects of life, like parenting, spas and health studios.
What is ASMR?
ASMR is short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Enthusiast Jennifer Allen coined the term in 2010. You may also hear this phenomenon called “head orgasms” or “brain tingles.” It’s distinct from the “aesthetic chills” or frisson some people experience when listening to music, for instance.
People watch ASMR videos in hopes of eliciting the response, usually experienced as a deeply relaxing sensation with pleasurable tingles in the head. It can feel like the best massage in the world – but without anyone touching you. Imagine watching an online video while your brain turns into a puddle of bliss.
The actions and sounds in ASMR videos mostly recreate moments in real life that people have discovered spark the feeling. These stimuli are called ASMR triggers. They usually involve receiving personal attention from a caring person. Associated sounds are typically gentle and non-threatening.
Everyday real-life events that stimulate ASMR include receiving positive personal attention from teachers, clinicians, hairdressers, spa employees, family members, or simply having a friend braid your hair and speak softly to you. The combination of the focused attention, soft voice, light touch and being cared for can quickly switch some brains into a deep state of relaxation.
The popularity of ASMR videos demonstrates that simply watching a recording of a kind, gentle person pretending to give you positive personal attention can stimulate this feeling. Even a video of someone’s hands can trigger ASMR – your brain has evolved to read that as a caring person demonstrating a helpful skill or valuable item.
What does watching someone poke slime activate for you?
What does the science say?
Scroll through the comments on ASMR videos and you’ll find plenty of viewers saying that it helps their anxiety, insomnia, depression and other conditions. These comments are not hard science, but they have motivated researchers to look into ASMR in more detail.
A 2015 study reported that the majority of viewers of ASMR videos watch these videos to relax, deal with stress and fall asleep. Some viewers even felt the videos were helpful to their depression and chronic pain. A 2017 study found a majority of viewers watch the videos to relax and some felt the videos helped their anxiety. A 2018 study reported that ASMR videos helped viewers feel more calm, less stressed and less sad, and the participants were so relaxed that their heart rates slowed down in the researchers’ lab.
No one’s sure what percent of the population can experience ASMR, but there may be an associated personality type. Research suggests that being open to new experiences is a personality trait more commonly found in those who experience ASMR than in those who don’t. A 2016 study found differences between the brain connections of those who experience ASMR and those who don’t. But participants weren’t being scanned as they experienced ASMR, so brain activity during the response was still a mystery.
In a recently published study, my co-authors and I reported what happened in the brains of 10 volunteers while they experienced ASMR. We asked participants to lie still and watch their favorite ASMR videos while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner.
When people were experiencing that ASMR tingling, certain areas of the brain were more active: most notably the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, these brain regions are also active when people, and other mammals, interact with each other in positive ways, like during parenting or grooming behaviors. ASMR videos may be tapping into our natural ability to be soothed by the sights and sounds our brains associate with caring individuals.
Can ASMR be experienced without the stimulus of another person? Some people do report being able to stimulate ASMR in themselves by clearing their minds, focusing on themselves, focusing on loved ones or thinking about ASMR triggers. The process and result may be similar to meditation, mindfulness, or even the calmness reported with praying and religious experiences. The brain regions active during a religious experience in some individuals are similar to those we saw activated during ASMR.
Intentionally harnessing the triggers
Can you help someone feel as safe as a baby basking in its mother’s attention?
ASMR triggers can be used on a person-to-person level to directly soothe the people in our lives. Intentionally using whispering, light touch and positive personal attention to bring on the brain tingles can be helpful for lulling a child to sleep, soothing a stressed family member, or relaxing a friend or romantic partner. ASMR relaxation techniques could also be incorporated into spas, health studios, wellness centers and counseling sessions. I wrote the book “Brain Tingles” as a how-to guide to help people create these person-to-person moments of deep bliss.
The more we understand ASMR then the better it can be used in a helpful way – and there is still a lot to be learned. It’s not yet known why just some individuals experience ASMR, what neurotransmitters and hormones are involved in ASMR, or how the effectiveness of ASMR compares to other current clinical treatments for anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Figuring out more about the biology and benefits of ASMR should make the world a calmer place.