Why Domino's decided to launch a 'Burger Pizza'

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | July 27, 2016
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How are these decisions taken? We asked S. Murugan Narayanaswamy, senior vice president, marketing, Domino's Pizza.

Recently Domino's Pizza India, the quick service restaurant (QSR) from Jubilant FoodWorks, launched its new product 'Burger Pizza'. The brand has also come up a TV campaign conceptualised by Contract Advertising. The print campaign has been executed in Delhi through Hindustan Times and Times of India. The brand plans to do a 360-degree marketing campaign.

Domino's Pizza's new TVC for Burger Pizza

Domino's Pizza's new print campaign for Burger Pizza

S. Murugan Narayanaswamy

In the recent past, QSRs like Café Coffee Day (CCD) started selling biryani at their stores. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) launched Chizza, a combination of chicken and pizza, and now Domino's has come up with Burger Pizza.

Was this product born out of consumers' feedback? "Yes partly," answers S. Murugan Narayanaswamy, senior vice president, marketing, Domino's Pizza, adding, "Consumers, directly, never tell you what they want. It's up to how you understand what they say. We knew a pizza was more of a 'meal time' food. While we do have our pizza selling across 'day parts', consumption is much higher during lunch and dinner time."

He goes on, "Also, people like consuming pizza together. It has never been an 'individual consumption' item. So that was an opportunity. We found that burgers and sandwiches are sold during non-meal parts of the day. But we're targeting individual consumption. We're not targeting burgers directly."

Narayanaswamy goes on to divulge, "In the last six quarters, there has been a reduction in the discretionary spending of consumers and we are not getting the growth that we got earlier. So one has to be smart about innovating." This is why QSRs and eatery chains seem to be trying hard to revamp their menus.

Why did Domino's decide on a 'Pizza Burger', though? "The market for burgers is as big as the pizza market and we have no share in it. Having said that, we could have easily launched another burger right? But we said 'No' and decided, instead, to look at the reason why people have burgers and sandwiches, and capture that through the core of Domino's Pizza, that is, wholesomeness, mozzarella and 'pizzaness'. We are not even calling this product a burger we are calling it a 'Burger Pizza'. It only looks like a burger but it tastes more like a pizza than like a burger," he fields.

The Burger Pizza contains everything that goes into a pizza. Consumers have certain pre-set expectations from 'a burger' and this product may not meet those criteria. "So there is always a risk of some people liking it and some not liking it. We can't be sure that everyone who loves a burger is going to love this product," he says.

We asked Narayanaswamy about the risks involved when introducing a new item on the menu. "When you conceptualise a new product, there is always a possibility of someone saying, 'Why is Domino's launching a burger?' We were very clear, from Day One, that one of the biggest threats could be, 'Why is Domino's Pizza launching something that is not a pizza?'" he admits.

Will India Bite?

Vibha Desai

Shripad Nadkarni

Harish Bijoor

Vibha Desai, an independent brand consultant, says, "The question that comes here is who you are and how much are you ready to change? When KFC first came into the country 20 years back, they refused to change a single thing. If we said this is not going to work or people won't like it, they refused. I said you have to get into home delivery they said no we don't do this and we won't do it and they lost money year on year and after a couple of years, after making changes they started making profits."

She further adds, "Burger Pizza is an interesting thing to do - nothing wrong with that. But when you get into the world of biryani, there is a huge problem because that's not who you are. You cannot go there. At the end you are not who you were."

Shripad Nadkarni, founder of Fingerlix, a ready-to-cook food solutions and co-founder of Marketgate, a brand consultancy, says, "I just read the news few days back that KFC has decided to refocus only on chicken which is their core. I think it is always important to strengthen the core. Domino's means pizzas. If you try something else then there will be someone who will come and take your pizza market and you will be nowhere in the pizza market."

He further adds, "I am of the opinion that if you have a core which is strong, then build something around the core rather than getting into something that is very different. The pizza penetration in our country is still very low so I would focus on that rather than entering somebody else's territory."

Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, says, "There are some brands that can afford to do this and some cannot. Café Coffee Day, is a cafeteria so it means it can add 20 different things. So café is not only coffee. But the coffee is a part of it. So a CCD can afford to do it but a Domino's can't afford to do the same. Pizza is their core competence and my definition of brand is a simple one. A brand is a one single thought and the one single thought for Domino's is that they are a pizza expert."

He further adds, "Now if Domino's also does burger then it is pizza and burger and you cannot be an expert in two things. This is a decision that Domino's might want to reconsider because a QSR like them cannot operate like a ration shop of fast food items."

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