Domino's Pizza hopes new pizza recipe reshapes image on quality
The decision is aimed squarely at repairing its image in the minds of consumers disappointed in the quality of Domino’s pizza.
“It’s what I would do,” said Robert Passikoff, president of New York-based market research firm Brand Keys.
Domino's Pizza changes
Still, it’s an altogether risky move in the sense that completely overhauled products can disenfranchise consumers even further.
Customer satisfaction expert Larry Freed, CEO of Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results, said major new product changes can easily go awry. The new pizza must avoid becoming New Coke, the quickly deserted new version of Coca-Cola briefly meant to replace the legendary version of the soft drink in the 1980s.
Domino’s says it’s conducted extensive consumer research to ensure that its new product is better than the previous version.
“They’re going to have to monitor it really, really close,” Freed said. “It looks like they’ve done their homework.”
But Passikoff said the risk of introducing a revamped product is minimized by the fact that Domino’s already ranks low on quality. Consumers rank Domino’s tied for last with Chuck E. Cheese’s for worst quality among national pizza retailers, according to Brand Keys' research.
Despite its quality problem, Domino’s is still the nation’s largest pizza delivery chain, and the firm wins high marks for its service and speed.
“They rank No. 1 because of the value proposition, because of locations, because of service, because of the ability to deliver the promotional extras,” Passikoff said. “The one area where they have always been lower than the national competitors that we look at has been in that area of taste.”
J. Patrick Doyle, president of Domino’s USA, acknowledged that the company had “become known for the service.”
Domino’s set out to revamp its core pizza recipe two years ago. Culinary experts in Domino’s research-and-development operation tried 15 different sauces, 50 crusts and dozens of cheese blends before settling on a final recipe, to be rolled out nationwide by Dec. 27.
For Domino’s, the new product presents a significant marketing opportunity. The firm plans to launch a major marketing campaign Dec. 28 to convince consumers to give the new pizza a try.
“The smartest thing we can do is to get as many people as possible to try this pizza,” Doyle said.
Freed said the Domino’s marketing campaign is critical to making the new pizza successful.
“Part of it is what does it really taste like, and part of it is people’s perceptions of what it tastes like, which has a lot to do in their business with marketing,” Freed said. “They’re going to get a chance with consumers."
For the marketing campaign, Domino’s has shot documentary-style footage of employees at its Ann Arbor headquarters for TV commercials.
The commercials feature “real team members talking about the new pizza, talking about why we made the change and why we’re excited about it. There will be a lot of familiar faces in the advertising,” Doyle said.
Passikoff agreed that the marketing campaign could play a critical role in helping Domino’s upgrade its image.
“There truly isn’t a sentient pizza eater out there that doesn’t know Domino’s,” he said. “So the issue is what do you do to improve engagement levels with your current customers and maybe with your new customers.”