Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 17, 2009 11:59 AM
Successful food brands often hesitate to mess around with what's working. Maybe they remember one of the most notorious mishaps in branding history: When Coca-Cola introduced the new taste of "New Coke" in 1985, public outcry forced the company to reinstate the original formula.
Apparently, Domino's Pizza isn't worried about a similar backlash -- the company is about to change its long-time pizza recipe. The move, says Domino's Chief Marketing Officer, Russell Weiner, reflects "what consumers are looking for. We're not talking about a slightly-altered version of our previous pizza. It's a completely new pizza reinvented from the crust up, and we are proud of it. ... We spent the last 18 months reinventing the brand in anticipation of our 50th anniversary."
According to Domino's, the new recipe includes a garlic seasoned crust with parsley, a sweeter, bolder tomato sauce "with a medley of herbs and a red pepper kick," and 100% real mozzarella shredded cheese. New pizzas will roll out in all US stores beginning December 27. Weiner says the new recipe "came from the thousands of direct consumer feedback messages on several media channels." Ironically, social media channels caused a public relations disaster for Domino's in April when some employees posted a video of their unsanitary food preparation practices.
Domino's decision to revise their pizza recipe reflects the brutal conditions associated with the pizza business. While Domino's is the leading pizza delivery brand, it has experienced "six straight quarters of declining revenue," according to Bloomberg. Competitor Pizza Hut, the number one pizza chain overall, now offers a delivery service. Papa John's, Domino's chief rival in the pizza delivery business, is adding stores and forecasts a modest increase in 2010 revenue.
And it isn't just about delivery anymore. Frozen pizza brands have improved dramatically. Restaurant chains like California Pizza Kitchen and Pizzeria Uno have branded products available for home use. DiGiorno frozen pizza, which advertises heavily with the slogan "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno," continues to introduce new varieties and enjoy rapid growth. In fact, DiGiorno, a Kraft product, was named one of "America's Hottest Brands" for 2009 by Advertising Age magazine.
All good reasons Domino's needs to shake up its game. "We've always been known as the 30-minute delivery guys," says Patrick Doyle, president of Domino's Pizza US business. "There's no reason we can't have the best pizza in the marketplace, too."