Domino’s dramatise their product turnaround

Guest post with Anne Charbonneau, Managing Partner for NL and France.

We often talk about product upgrade as a good healthy habit for growing the core of a brands. But for some brands where perceptions are really poor, a simple ‘new improved’ product just won’t do.

Online comment on domino'sThis was the case with Dominos in their home US market three years ago. Consumers were increasingly unhappy with the product, which they said had “crust like cardboard”, “tasted of processed cheese” and at best was “gooey, greasy…. but fast!”. The product reputation had become a total roadblock.

Today, Domino’s has some of the best growth figures in the food industry. And it achieved this success by tackling the criticism head-on with its “Pizza Turnaround” campaign.

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This series of confessions communicated in TV ads and online pulled no punches and showed it all: the focus group calling the pizza dough rubbery, the online forums blaming the processed cheese, the Domino R&D team watching it in agony and transforming the product from head to crust. After working hard to completely overhaul the product, the team followed up with a film showing surprise home-delivery of the new pizzas to negative focus group consumers. All pretty convincing!

There is a nice video case study here, or you can click below to watch if you are on the blog.

Three key lessons worth taking from this story:

1. Dare to see when a product issue becomes a company issue:

I’d imagine Domino’s staff, especially the delivery guys, felt pretty lousy about product quality. No doubt internal metrics such as product pride went off the scale too, something pretty critical when you’re a brand serving millions of customers face to face everyday. this is a corporate turnaround not marketing turnaround, and it is paying off.

2. Be authentic: the tone and style of the idea might not be everyone’s taste, but it is clearly authentic, and therefore believable.

3. play on your consumer’s playground: most of the bitching about product was happening online, so online was the key medium for Domino’s to talk back and challenge consumers.

In conclusion, this example proves that sometimes, ‘new and improved’ upgrade simply won’t do and consumers will need to see more serious product changes to really reconsider the brand, meaning combining visible new ‘sausage’ AND visible commitment by the brand and the company to do things differently and better.

As a final note, its interesting that the successful US re-launch may have played an important role in giving the company the means and confidence to expand internationally, as David blogged on recently here.