HOLLYWOOD: Dunkin' Donuts, the quick-service chain, is increasingly drawing on big data to drive its decision-making and strategy.

Chris Fuqua, vp/brand marketing at Dunkin' Donuts, told delegates at the Association of National Advertisers' 2014 Brand Masters Conference that the firm had ramped up its focus on this area.

"We're trying to navigate big data," he said. "So we've gone from a place where we didn't really use a lot of data to make decisions" to possessing greater expertise in translating statistics into action.

Indeed, Fuqua asserted, he now "knows the numbers as well as our CFO does, because I have to be able to talk about them" whenever required.

"I have to be able to understand what's going on in the business, and data helps me do that," he added. (For more, including details about four main customer groups that Dunkin' Donuts is now targeting, read Warc's exclusive report: Dunkin' Donuts and its branding dilemma.)

Despite its name, Dunkin' Donuts has been placing a heightened emphasis on coffee – and sales of this product today constitute one of the organisation's most important metrics.

"When I look at the numbers every morning, I look at what happened with coffee, because that's really the best signal of what's going on in our business," Fuqua said.

He is well-suited to such a task, having joined Dunkin' Donuts as head of business analytics following stints in the Navy and working for McKinsey, the management consultancy.

"I came to Dunkin' because I wanted to get my hands dirty. And getting my hands dirty at Dunkin' meant diving into the data," he said.

This need to leverage data is a consequence, in no small part, of the fact that a vast number of players are vying for attention in the categories of primary interest to Dunkin' Donuts'.

"There's more competition in our space than there ever has been," Fuqua said. "And it's not just competition from traditional QSRs … It's people out there selling breakfast and coffee in other forms."

Data sourced from Warc