Earlier this year, Coopers Brewery suffered a massive backlash after an awkward ad campaign involving them and The Bible Society went viral, resulting in a movement to #BoycottCoopers. The long lasting effects of this campaign remain to be seen, but in talking about engaging Millennials and Gen Z, it was basically a case study of “what not to do.”
But for every story of failure, there’s another story of success. Just look at Domino’s, the Michigan pizza joint that’s been open since 1960. Domino’s has slowly but surely become a pizza giant, with more than 5000 stores across 75 countries. In 2016, Domino’s’ net profit grew by almost 29%, hitting 82.4 million.
However, things weren’t always looking so good for Domino’s—in 2008 the company was suffering from declining sales, with customers describing their pizza as “cardboard”. Since then, a strategic marketing campaign has pushed their share prices to a 60-fold increase.
The company has credited “disruptive digital initiatives” for some of their success. But what exactly does that mean? And how did they make it appealing to young people? Let’s have a look.
Improving the product
The obvious reaction to declining sales is to immediately improve the product. This began in 2008, when Domino’s decided to source better cheese, flour and pizza-base sauce. It was an easy, obvious reaction—business 101—but Domino’s had already figured out that it wasn’t just the product that they had to improve. J. Patrick Doyle, the president of US Operations told Bloomberg that customers had started to associate the brand with bad pizza. “When we did consumer tests, if they knew the pizza was Domino’s, they actually liked it less than if they just thought it was a random unbranded pizza.” So it wasn’t just the quality of the product, but how consumers viewed, not just the brand, but the product itself. This would be more difficult to change.
In getting customers to understand that the product had improved, Domino’s took an approach of full transparency. In 2009, they produced an ad campaign called The Pizza Turnaround, revealing a dearth of negative consumer comments, some describing their pizza as “bland”, “boring” and “cardboard”. Basically, they admitted that their product wasn’t that great, then showed how they’d tried to make it better. The ad is a bit dated now, but this attempt at transparency tends to work well with Gen Z customers, who tend to value honesty in marketing more than previous generations.
Delivery With Drones, Robots and the DXP
Domino’s also began testing new methods of delivery; ways that could pique the interest of anyone with an interest in emerging technologies, from the Silicon Valley types, who are at the forefront of the tech industry, to your average suburban customer. They began delivering pizzas with robots, drones and “the DXP” – a delivery vehicle that can carry up to 80 pizzas and keeps them hot until they reach their destination. Realistically, drone and robot delivered pizzas are still at trial stage and they aren’t going to be common practice for a while, but customers are interested in them. Similarly, there are less than 150 DXPs on the road at the moment, so the majority of pizzas still get delivered the old fashioned way. But these technologies capture a feeling of being at the doorstop of the future, something that fascinates customers and commands their interest while indirectly garnering attention for the product.
Ordering Through Social Media
Domino’s have also put a whole lot of effort into making their online ordering as accessible and convenient as possible. As such, users can order via Facebook, Twitter, Twitter with emojis (yes, you can order a pizza literally just by sending emojis now), Apple Watch, and the “Zero Click” ordering app. They’ve also implemented systems whereby customers can track the location of their driver while they wait for their order. This focus on emerging digital technologies provides a hyper-convenience that interests customers just as much, if not more than, the product itself. It also taps into the social media sphere, which is exactly where Gen Z and Gen Y are already hanging out.
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