Domino’s Takes on Papa John’s

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Dominos Pizza has invested in a big turnaround and you can see a snapshot here at this link.  Management, after listening to customers past and present and realizing it had a product and image problem, decided to reformulate its pizza recipe.  Dominos attacked “cardboard crust” and “sauce like catsup” and now has a tasty product story to tell. (You’ve seen the hokey but effective focus group ads, I’m sure.)  Ingredients, however, is an important brand component of Papa John’s Pizza, whose tagline is “Better ingredients. Better pizza,” so Dominos is playing catch up.

Recently, Dominos launched some advertising telling us that 3 of its new pizzas win taste tests over Papa Johns. Because of Papa John’s lead in ingredients — a brand idea it has been pushing for a while — I would normally say Papa John’s doesn’t have much to worry about. Taste tests are tactics not strategies.  But Papa John’s has been playing lip service to the ingredients strategy for a while now, focusing on sports promotions and price promotions.  Plus it has given a lot more brand time to Papa John Schnatter the CEO, which is a distraction.  Ingredients equal taste and Papa John’s has lost its momentum. 

 Dominos is the underdog now and you know how America loves an underdog.  This is an interesting fight to watch and one which may have just turned in Dominos favor.  Peace!