Shreyas Kulkarni

Pizza Hut introduces ‘Melts’ as lifestyle changes turn meal timings upside down

The pizza giant has introduced six flavours starting from Rs 169.

Maharashtra state’s decision, a couple of months ago, for all schools to start classes – pre-primary and primary to class IV – at 9 am instead of 7am from the incoming academic year was the clearest evidence of technology-influenced lifestyle change; many kids were awake post-midnight and early morning classes were no longer in their best interests was the government’s opinion. 

It is surprising how one accepts or acknowledges change after it begins to affect their or their loved ones’ health or education more than anything else.

Another important yet under-observed aspect of this globally influential lifestyle is the fluid nature of meal times. The classic 12.30-1.30 pm lunch followed by dinner between 8-9 pm schedule is an endangered activity. So is the fact that food is often the secondary focus whilst eating. Yes, most are scrolling through their phones, streaming content, or playing a video game on a console.

Pizza Hut India, after rigorous consumer research, says it is mostly the younger generation, the Gen Zs if you may, who are multi-tasking, especially during their meal times, whenever that takes place.

“The younger generation wants to hustle; if you look at their lifestyle their timings are blurred, they don't have time for lunch or dinner so there was a need for a product which they can have on the go, while they're doing multiple things,” states Aanandita Datta, chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut India.

She joined the American pizza restaurant giant’s 28-year-old India business in 2023 after spending a decade at Unilever.

The consumer research from Pizza Hut India prompted it to import Melts, a new offering as well as a new category which made its global debut in the United States back in October 2022.

What is Melts? Think vegetarian or meat filling inside a crispy crust. The India menu has six flavours (three vegetarian and three chicken) and they start from Rs 169 and go up to Rs 269.

Aanandita Datta
Aanandita Datta

Datta says Melts, because of its construction, can be had for lunch or dinner as a meal in itself. “We really don't see any direct competition because what you get at the price we are charging for it, it is almost a niche,” she remarks.

It is evident the introduction of Melts hands Pizza Hut India a unique exclusivity in India’s bourgeoning QSR space which Mordor Intelligence says is estimated at 25.46 billion USD (Rs 2.10 lakh crore) in 2024, and is expected to reach 38.71 billion USD (Rs 3.23 lakh crore) by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 8.74% during the forecast period (2024-2029).

Pizza Hut India competes with pizza brands Domino’s, Oven Story, and Mojo Pizza as well as other fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC, and the lack of a Melts-like item may help the Yum Brands! owned-Pizza Hut stand out.

Datta says Pizza Hut India spent upwards of six months perfecting the product. “We took a lot of time to get the crust right because there has to be a perfect crunch when you bite into it. We wanted to deliver the same experience the consumer gets in a restaurant when the product is served in a delivery situation so it took us a lot of time to get the crust right,” she reveals.

The CMO goes on to reveal that the pizza giant had developed 20+ flavours before zeroing down on the six flavours which made the menu.

While Pizza Hut India decided to use a 360-degree campaign to promote the Melts through television, digital, and OOH, influencers would play a major role in its marketing strategy. 

“We're looking at food bloggers who're giving their expert opinion on the product, and we will also be working with college students and showing how Melts fits into their lives,” states the CMO.

The brand has also partnered with Amazon Prime Video’s Playground, a unique reality show centred around gaming.

What’s noticeable is the lack of celebrity in Melts’ promotions because the target group do not respond to the stars well. This unlike last year when Pizza Hut roped in Saif Ali Khan and Shehnaaz Gill to launch a range of new pizzas.

It took Pizza Hut India around six months to finalise Melts while the average period for a new product ranges from six to nine months. With Melts, the most popular flavour, the CMO will agree to it, is the Cheesy Cheese flavour. What’s yours?

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