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Posted on Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 5:41 a.m.

Domino's Pizza hopes new pizza recipe reshapes image on quality

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza, pummeled for years by accusations that the quality of its products had dwindled, is aiming to refurbish its brand by revamping its core pizza recipe.

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.”

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 2:27 p.m.

Profits from these pies still go to support people and causes aligned with the religious right including the fight Ypsilanti has had about its civil rights ordinance. Spending any money on any of their pies antithetical my family values.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 9:03 a.m.

eek, too early in the morning to spell correctly (where's my coffee?)


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 8:59 a.m.

WOG split up into two sects. Plenty of leftover WOGs in town, many dropped the WOG "title" and just go to regular Catholic services, but still almost all are ULTRA Catholics...the saying goes you can take the person out of Catholism but you can't take the Catholism out of a person, goes for WOG too!


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 10:55 p.m.

WOG= Word of God - an offshoot sect of Catholicism favored by Dominos' founder Tom Monaghan. There used to be quite a few here in A2. Maybe they all bailed when he did. And yes, three articles in two days is more than enough on this topic, don't you think?


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 7:01 p.m.

what is WOG?


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 11:07 a.m.

How about a story on Anthony's Gourmet pizza?


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 9:26 a.m.

Service and speed are great, but the food is below any consumption worth buying. I wouldn't get one even if they offered it for free. The image has been tarnished to where it'll be years before anyone would consider eating that c***p.


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 8:31 a.m.

as an Ann Arborite I will NEVER EVER support Domino's Pizza. I know too many WOG families that had a father working at Domino's that got cut out when WOG split. Even as a non WOG I found that whole thing distrubing.


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 8:29 a.m.

THE reason i quit buying them is because they were never cooked all the way through.They were always wet and doughy in the middle.To big of a hurry I guess.I havent tried one in 5 years