Pizza. It's probably the most American staple food you'll find, next to a cheeseburger. In fact, I think more families are excited about having pizza night than burger night, when you really think about it.
The varieties are endless: New York style, Chicago style, St. Louis style (one of my personal faves) – mom and pop places and chains. So how do you make your product stand out among all the rest?
Domino's Pizza takes the cake (or pie) in that regard. This national chain has been around for awhile now, since the first store opened in Michigan in 1960. I remember going with my 4-H troop as a kid to the local Domino's and getting the opportunity to make our own pizzas. Even that seems like it was ages ago.
Amidst other industry leaders climbing the ranks to top sellers in recent years, namely Papa John's, Domino's made some changes to its entire recipe at the end of 2009. The goal was to rise to the top again, and it appears to be working.
Shock and Awe
In mid-December of 2009, Domino's Pizza announced some changes, and they weren't small changes by any means. The entire pizza recipe received and overhaul and hit stores on December 27, 2009. The crust was new (brushed with a yummy garlic and parsley infused butter), the cheese changed (mozzarella and provolone – shredded, not diced) and then a sweeter sauce with red pepper added for more spice.
Long time patrons were taken aback – but many welcomed the change, as Domino's was quickly losing its standing as the nation's favorite. In fact, changes in demographics and taste preferences for those partaking in delivery pizzas made the recipe revamp a necessity. Domino's came in last in a national survey conducted in 2009 by Brand Keys – tying with Chuck E. Cheese's. Not the kind of results you want to see for your business.
So, what happens when a nearly 50-year-old pizza industry completely changes its approach? Everyone wants to try it and see if the changes are a success, of course.
The Change Just Keeps on Coming
After Domino's catered to the masses, it saw a historic 14.3% gain the following quarter. Sales have remained steady since then. However, Domino's didn't see this as a completed success – the company has since introduced several new products over the last two years (artisan style pizzas, pasta, wings, oven baked sandwiches and, more recently, new cheesy bread – which is really good, by the way), continuing to work steadfastly to corner the market.
Domination Through Application
So what is the point in me recapping something that would otherwise be old news? Because we, as business owners and entrepreneurs, can learn a lot from Domino's Pizza and its reclaiming of the pizza market. The principles are quite simple, but many business owners fail to see their significance, or are just too chicken to go through with it. Domino's took a huge risk with these changes, and continues to take risk by introducing new products. Everything the company does works because of these principles.
Hear what the people in your target market are saying. Don't discount it – ANY of it – because it's really all that matters.
Take what you're hearing from your target market and apply it to your products or services. Yes, one person's opinion should not affect your entire business approach, but if you're getting the same feedback or finding the same results through market research, then you clearly need to apply that to your business strategy.
Don't just make insignificant changes that no one will care about. Even if the noise consumers are making isn't geared toward your company directly, learn from it and do everything you can to accommodate their needs and desires – even if it means a complete restructuring.
When changes are made, market the heck out of them. Let everyone know. Offer discounts on your revamped product or service to entice old, current and potential clients to buy. The Domino's ad campaign was even risky – showing consumers say horrible things about the Domino's product, followed by the company chefs telling us how it's changing to make us happy. Risky? Yes. Marketing brilliance? You bet your tooshie.
Don't just make the one change and stop there – keep offering new products and services as you see a need or desire arise in your target demographic that you can address. Then, address it with everything you've got. Again, like Domino's new cheesy bread. I mean, come on... stuffed with cheese, topped with cheese, and with awesome flavors like spinach and feta... yowsers. And just when we're getting used to that, they introduce parmesan bread bites. What next, a full dessert menu? (oh, that would be GREAT!)
Get Your Domino On!
There's something to be said for making it in an industry for over 50 years. And, just because you have that much time under your hat, doesn't mean you have to remain constant for half a century on what you offer to the public.
Adapt. Grow. Change. Thrive. Like Domino's.
Now, who else wants pizza....