Shreyas Kulkarni

Pizza Hut wants a bite of the Gen Z and younger millennials

Growing up eating Pizza Hut, little did Aanandita Datta imagine herself helming the India marketing duties of the American pizza giant in her adulthood.

Growing up eating Pizza Hut, little did Aanandita Datta imagine herself helming the India marketing duties of the American pizza giant in her adulthood.

She joined Pizza Hut after spending nearly a decade at Unilever, and her immediate mandate, which the brand has adopted for a while now, is to turn the quick-service restaurant chain into a younger and everyday brand.

Pizza Hut for Datta during her childhood was a cool international brand. She intends to keep it that way and only make the brand relevant to today’s time; her expression of the mandate. 

First things first, the new marketing chief wants to own the taste in the pizza category; Pizza Hut has been on it for the past few years with new pizza flavours being introduced in short intervals.

It, less than 10 days ago, introduced 10 new pizzas with a new campaign titled ‘Mood badle, pizza badle’. The insight for the new pies came from moods influencing taste choices. If you're in a different mood today, you might crave a different flavour or taste than yesterday when you might have been in a different mood explains the new chief marketing officer.

Creativeland Asia, the brand’s creative agency on record, made the new campaign which stars Shehnaaz Gill and Saif Ali Khan.

Also Read: When Pizza Hut ordered a delivery-first strategy

Datta, with the new campaign, aims to build “top-of-mind awareness with clutter-breaking advertising work” which is also the second task on her to-do list. For instance, Saif Ali Khan was cast because the varied roles he has essayed during his career are a simile of the varied moods which call for different kinds of pizzas.

It is interesting to note the brand’s faces. Pizza Hut had, in what could say was a revolutionary move, cast then influencer Bhuvan Bam as its face and last year it chose famous video jockey Lola Kutty (Anuradha Menon), and now Khan and Gill.

“The interesting bit for Pizza Hut is that you first decide what is the story to be told and then look at who'll be the best fit for it,” Datta explains.

The brand, with this campaign, will accentuate its return to television advertising after being absent on the medium for the past three years. It returned to TV last year as an experiment and has been using it from a reach perspective.

“Most consumers were on digital platforms and we saw 5x ROI from it than we'd have seen on TV at that time so we focused on digital,” remarks Datta.

The new ad will broadcast on general entertainment channels (Mindshare does the media buying for Pizza Hut), followed by digital, social engagement platforms, and even influencer marketing. While the campaign won’t touch the IPL directly, it is being advertised on ESPNcricinfo, a cricket news website.

Pizza Hut, through this campaign, and others, will cater to the Gen Z and younger millennials cohort because, Datta, seeing the brand’s data, says, they are the influencers who drive the families’ choice to eat pizza. Family consumption remains the most common occasion for Pizza Hut.

This decision does not mean the brand has cast away the other consumer cohorts. The core target group is the younger ones but “the product range caters to everybody.”

Datta reveals they invest in social listening, understanding changing food trends among their TG, and the brand globally uses A.I. to predict incoming food trends, to decide which kind of pizzas to bake.

Metros and Tier I and II cities are where most of Pizza Hut’s present target groups reside, and to reach them, the brand has, along with its new pizzas, embarked on a massive expansion drive.

Datta says the pizza chain had 500 stores until a few years ago and today boasts 800 outlets, and it intends to continue this drive further into the Tier I and II regions. Why? Because people there, thanks to the media, “are aware of the brand, and they are aware of the food category they are talking about… being present and accessible for them is the job we need to do right now.”

In the quest to reach the unreached, Pizza Hut will not try to one-up its recently revamped delivery app over food delivery platforms; its delivery channel contributes to 50% sales.

“The thing is that we want to reach out to the consumers, now it is up to them to see whichever platform they find the most convenient,” remarks the CMO, and assures that consumers will enjoy a seamless experience regardless of whether they use the Pizza Hut delivery app or a food delivery app. 

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