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Having taken Domino’s Pizza to market leader position, Harneet Singh Rajpal, VP Marketing, Domino’s Pizza India, now looks at expanding the brand’s reach to new cities and countries


Jubilant FoodWorks Limited (JFL) was incorporated in 1995 and initiated operations in 1996. JFL is one of India’s largest and fastest growing multinational food service companies, with a network of 439 stores (as of December 31, 2011). JFL & its subsidiary operate Domino’s Pizza brand with exclusive rights for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. The company is the market leader in the organized pizza market with a 54% market share and 70% share in the pizza home delivery segment in India. The company has also entered into an alliance with Dunkin’ Donuts, to develop the brand and operate restaurants in India.


Harneet Singh, VP Marketing of Domino’s Pizza India, is responsible for the entire gamut of marketing activities for the brand. He has excelled in creating winning brands in each of his previous assignments in the Automobiles and Consumer Durables segment, including TVS and the Indian operations of Kohler Co. of USA. His key focus has always been on understanding the consumer and building profitable brands. During his stint at Domino’s Pizza, Singh has led many successful product launches and moved the brand to a new positioning of ‘Khushiyon ki Home Delivery’, striking an emotional chord with consumers. He is a mechanical engineer and MBA in Marketing from Sydenham Institute of Management.

Q] It was reported that Domino’s wanted to dominate the pizza market with 80 new stores in 2011-12. Where are you today?

Yes, we are on track, plan to open 85+ stores in this financial year. In our Q3 results, we declared that we have 439 stores across 100 cities in the country.

Q] What is the size of the Indian pizza market? What is the marketshare that Domino’s enjoys?

India’s pizza market is worth around Rs 1,300-1,400 crore as per Euromonitor data last year, out of the Rs 8,000 crore organized food sector in India. Domino’s has over 54% share of the pizza market, and 70% share if you look at the organized home delivery space.

Q] Pizzas changed the eating habits of the common Indian, and we witnessed a ‘pizza revolution’ in India, so to say. Where does Domino’s fare in this scenario?

In 1996, we launched our first store in New Delhi, and became the first QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) chain to enter India. There was no concept of pizzas in India, for one, and we were nowhere near to delivering made-to-order fresh pizzas. We brought in pizzas exactly in the form that the world ate it. Our task was to educate consumers, build awareness and induce trial. What helped immensely was that the pizza has ingredients that exist in the Indian diet. But it was in a different format, shape and presentation. We managed to establish a connect.

Q] You moved from a ‘Hungry kya’ positioning to ‘30mins or Free’ positioning. How did the transition to ‘Khushiyon ki Home Delivery’ happen?

Initially our positioning was ‘Hungry Kaya’ and by 2003-2004, we were established in 22 cities. At this point, we decided to highlight the ‘home delivery’ factor. We championed the culture of home delivery and our campaign was ’30 mins or Free’ to show that pizzas were delivered in less than 30 minutes. This changed the pizza scenario from a ‘freshness’ tag to a time-bound one too. It was not a marketing gimmick, but a scientifically designed process. Our ad campaign evolved after we systematically and scientifically mapped the whole process. We found that it took around 15-17 minutes to make and pack a pizza order for delivery. Then it took 7-8 minutes of drive time to deliver them. We still kept around 7-8 minutes as buffer, keeping in mind traffic problems. People thought it was just a publicity stunt. In fact, delivery orders per day touched a new high after this! Also, putting a 30-minute time span actually ensured an unwritten commitment that our pizzas would be delivered hot and fresh.

In 2008, we realized it was time to connect with people on an emotional level and we went to the consumer and found out that the ‘delivery’ factor helps to lighten the mood, bring joy and happiness. The essence of the brand was the promise of shared joy. In 30 minutes, the Domino’s pizza not only brought joy, but a lot of sharing and bonding also while eating it. Hence the new positioning. When the consumer evolves, the brand also evolves.

Q] Who are your target consumers? How would you describe them?

Out target consumer is broad-based and could be a kid to or a 40-year-old. But we focus on the 15-35 years age group, male/female living in urban, semi-urban areas who connect on a psychological level. So, Domino’s is a natural fit here. If you look at the demographics, it comprises students, young working adults and the young married. About 50 % are with family and friends while consuming pizzas. And, while 54% of Indian population is under 25 years, it keeps the brand very young. We connect equally well with those who are married, to those who are in college or even guys who have passed out from college and who have entered working life…this helps the brand to talk to a larger audience.

Q] There is this ‘junk’ and ‘unhealthy’ connotation attached to food like pizzas.

Let me demystify this concept. Globally, food which is ‘fried’ is typically considered ‘unhealthy’. Pizzas have wheat, cheese (a milk product), tomatoes and veggies on top. There is nothing unhealthy about them... anything in excess is not good, like excess of cheese, etc. We also have the whole wheat pizza, which has thin crust and is healthy. None of our products have any taste enhancers and are made of natural ingredients and are trans fat-free. In India, pizza consumption is three to five times a year, which is nothing compared to the US, where it is 10 to 15 times a year.

Q] Your current ad campaign promotes the Three Cheese Pizza, which is gaining in popularity.

We use three different types of cheeses in this pizza - cheddar, mozarella, gouda - designed to give a new experience to the consumer. Every December, we launch something high on taste, that can add indulgence and warmth to the winter. Our ad communication features the angel and the idea was to create clutter-breaking communication. The response was fantastic. In a brand track study, our ad recalled very high, plus the brand is doing well.

Q] What do you see as trends in the food sector, with particular reference to the world of pizzas?

One learning is that food fatigue is very high. If you look at food globally, variety is the highest in Indian food. We are foodies and we want choice and we want to experiment. This is what has helped us launch three to four products every year. Everytime we launch a new product, the consumer gets a new reason to come back to us. As to how far we have gone in Indianization, we believe in Indianizing the palate for our kind of food. Our menu here has cottage cheese (‘paneer’) which is not seen in Domino’s offerings in other countries, and we have Barbeque Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Kheema pizza, etc., tweaked to the Indian taste. Our food is standard across the country. So,what you get in Patna is as good as what you get in Guwahati or Delhi or Mumbai.

Q] What are the marketing spends that Domino’s looks at?

Around 4-5% of our revenue goes into our marketing spends. We are not averse to looking at a higher percentage.

Q] In the QSR space, what are the key marketing/advertising trends?

The QSR space has been growing at 25-30%. It’s already got many new players, as it promises aggressive growth. And, the increasing consumption of the country also adds to this.

Q] What are you plans to expand to new areas?

We opened our first store in Sri Lanka in May 2011; in Bangladesh we are exploring the market; in Nepal we have not started anything yet. As far as Tier II and Tier III towns go, we are now present in 100 cities (10 in metros and mini metros and 90 in Tier II, III) across the country. We believe there are many more cities that we can move into.

Q] For Domino’s the non-pizza category has been a revenue-generating avenue. At least 80% of your orders include side orders...

It is a full experience – a full meal that you can get at Domino’s. Yes, 80% of orders include some side dishes like Nutty Choco Lava Cake, Chicken Wings, Garlic Breadsticks, Butterscotch Mousse Cake and others that go well with pizza.

Q] How active is Domino’s in the digital media?

We launched our online ordering system in April 2011, and it is a huge success, and we have won many awards too. On Facebook, we have some 1 million fans; we were ranked 17th in the Most Engaging Fan Page on Facebook and so on. We try to shape and also understand the personality of the fans, whom we usually refer to as the ‘Dominicons’. We have a thriving social media presence and a high degree of engagement with consumers. We are investing in digital marketing to make people try this and enjoy the convenience of this platform.

Q] Is Domino’s pricing policy affordable for the target segment?

Our pricing today is most value-for-money for the brand (Brandtrack data shows that). The price for pizzas starts at Rs 39, and it is a whole meal. Pizza Mania range, which is higher priced, is shared by people. So, if you divide the cost per head, you can see that the pizza is value-for-money.

Q] Are you moving into the beverages category?

No. Coke is our international beverage partner; in fact Coke and Sprite go well with our pizzas.

Q] With high competition from other players, how do you ensure customer loyalty?

We have 54% marketshare and we are the leader in the organised pizza category. People find our delivery standards much better. Check our presence in 100 countries and we have the widest footprint. At least 70% of our customers are repeat purchasers every month. This loyalty makes us market leaders. The DNA of the brand is ‘delivery’. Our stores have a seating area too, so ‘dine in’ plus ‘home delivery’. Earlier it was 65% home delivery but today it is 50%, with ‘dine in’ capturing the other 50%. Customer loyalty is actually very high.

Feedback: shree.lahiri@exchange4media.com

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