No Truce Between Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s

Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon are both owned by Focus Brands Inc. an Atlanta based company.

Cinnabon was founded in 1985 and is the current market leader in the cinnamon roll business with more than 1,000 franchise locations.

Auntie Anne’s was established in 1988 and is currently the largest hand-rolled soft pretzel company with more than 1,300 locations.

Being sister companies, there should be no competition as wherever the customers go to eat; the money will be going to the same pocket anyway, right?
Wrong…! Part of good business practice is to create competition among the business’ units. Only with this winning attitude can a multi-business company grow and expand exponentially.

Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s are usually situated in the same malls. Though they have different pastry products, they belong to the same industry, the snacks industry. They will definitely compete for the same possible customers during the in between meal times.

Since our comparison happens at the malls, we will be presenting Cinnabon’s and Auntie Anne’s merits from their actual mall personas.


A Annes & CinnabonBefore we even go to their respective menu, we have to consider their customer grabbing attention qualities to influence those pairs of feet to come closer and take a look at their food displays.

There is definitely more action at Auntie Anne’s with all that dough acrobatics of rolling and twisting that attracts viewership. Cinnabon’s pouring of icings and oven baking is a little more subdued in showmanship. People will definitely go to Auntie Anne’s first to have a look.

Food Presentation

In terms of visual presentation, Cinnabon will have the upper hand mainly because of the cinnamon roll’s larger surface area. You can actually see more sweetness and taste on the cinnamon’s solid square area.

The pretzels at Auntie Anne’s are thin and there is very little room for the food ornaments.

In appearance, Cinnabon Rolls look more tasty and filling.

Though the prospective customer would take a look at the at pretzel making process, once his curiosity has been satisfied he could easily turn to the Cinnabon side to look at the display since Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s booths are usually side by side in malls.

Setting them apart would have been a better sales move since it will give Focus brands more exposure in the mall. Setting them side by side could be a sign of the company’s lack of confidence on their individual potential to win customers. Maybe, they feel that their individual menu is too weak and they need to be side by side to fill each other’s deficiencies.


Scent is not that much of a factor. Since they are side by side, you cannot really tell which aroma is coming where. Others find the combination nauseating as per the reviews and feedbacks. But, the number of comments is not that conclusive. A lot more would have no problems about it.


There is actually no comparison on taste and satisfaction between Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s because they selling different pastries. One is a pretzel and the other is a cinnamon roll. It usually just depends on what the customer likes at the moment.

But if it is an undecided customer who will only base it on appearance versus the cost, then the sale may go to Cinnabon. For the same $2.50, the Cinnabon Roll looks more filling and tastier with more icing on the larger surface area.

Of course once they hold the Cinnabon roll it’s actually all just fluff as compared to Auntie Anne’s more solid consistency. But, this realization will only happen after the purchase has been made. It could be an important reference when the same costumer goes back to the mall. But then again, that customer may be considering another form of snacks other than a pretzel or a cinnamon roll on his next mall visit.

Team Up

In some locations like the Dining Pavilion of Quaker Bridge Mall in New Jersey, Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s have teamed up to create special breakfast items like panini sandwiches.

This idea could be quick problem solver for slow sales but not such a wise long term business move.

The presentation of Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s as competing establishments would be a better marketing scenario. Why will you have 1 big store when you can have 2 different stores?

The only benefit of having Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s side by side is to corner the customer in choosing between the two different snacks. And if the customer decides not to move around any further to look at the other choices, his dollar will go to the same pocket either way.

Consumers usually feel more empowered when they are allowed to choose between 2 different restaurants. Just think how much leverage Focus Brands Inc. will lose if Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s openly declare that they are one and the same.

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