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Ajay Kaul

CEO | 23 Jul 2007

Domino’s brand is built around the emotional benefit of “satisfies your craving for tasty food at the time of need”. The main focus is on owning the taste platform as a means to satisfy the craving for good food through innovative and indulgent pizzas, and the 30 minutes delivery promise is a credible reason for the “at the time of need positioning”.

In a career spanning 16 years, Ajay Kaul, CEO, Domino’s Pizza India Ltd has worked in industries ranging from credit cards, airline, express distribution and logistics, all within the umbrella of service. Kaul joined Domino’s from TNT Indonesia, where he was Country Head of TNT Express for three years.

Kaul, who has done his BTech from IIT Delhi and MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, began his career with American Express travel related services. In the six years that he spent there based in Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi, he gained a sound grounding in the credit card sales and marketing. He went on to spend two years with Modiluft as General Manager - Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. This was followed by five years in TNT India as Country Director – Sales, Marketing & Customer Service.

Kaul has been associated with Domino’s for two years now. In conversation with exchage4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Kaul speaks about Domino’s journey in India and further expansion plans.

Q. How has the journey been for you so far?

The professional journey so far has been good. After passing out of a B-School and spending a few years in sales, marketing and customer services, my aim was to assume a Business Head (CEO) role as fast as possible. I achieved that when I went to Indonesia as head of TNT Express in 2002. There were tremendous learnings in Indonesia in the areas of business management, people management, handling cultural/social complexity etc.

Q. How has the journey been for you at Domino’s Pizza?

It has been great. Frankly, I feel it is one of the most exciting periods of my career. We have a great team here and all are aligned towards a common, big picture. We are breaking all previously set records, but while we run our business, we are serious about bringing fun into our workplace. ‘Sell more pizzas, have more fun’ is our corporate mantra. Talking a bit about facts, at 147 stores, we are the largest MNC QSR brand in the country and easily the fastest growing. This year, so far, we have been growing at over 50 per cent. We have added 20 stores in the last quarter, which makes it one store every four days. Our aim is to reach 200 stores by March 2008 (and ultimate ambition of 500 stores by 2010). So, in short, it has been an exhilarating journey in Domino’s.

Q. What are your new marketing initiatives for this summer?

For this summer, we have re-introduced the successful Fun-for-4 meal promotion on popular demand. The fun meal for four includes four regular sized pizzas at Rs 180, which effectively means Rs 45 per pizza. To bring excitement on the menu, we have been consistently innovating new products and are now launching a new side item called Calzone. It is a baked product that is stuffed with Mexican flavour, select veg/non veg toppings and cheese. This product was rolled out in our stores last week and we are going to launch a TV campaign to promote this product very soon.

Q. A pizza is not available for less than Rs 50, whereas a burger is easily available for just Rs 20. Don’t you face intense competition from other fast food brands?

First of all, Domino’s pizza is available for less than Rs. 50. Our fun meal for four veg range offers consumers four pizzas at Rs 45 per pizza. However, if consumers were to buy just one pizza, the most inexpensive Domino’s Pizza is available for Rs 60. Customers have different value perception of different products in their minds. A pizza is considered to be more of a meal than a burger, which is primarily consumed as a snack. There is more food value and food content in a regular pizza (the 7-inch Domino’s regular pizza) as compared to a small burger. It is more filling and quite suitable for a full meal for one adult person. Also, the consumption occasion of a burger is different from that of a pizza. Pizza today is finding its place as a lunch and dinner option. The customer pays more for his lunch than for his snack across food categories, and pizzas and burgers are no different.

Q. What is your share in the branded pizza market in India?

Domino’s is the market leader in the pizza delivery segment. We have more than 65 per cent share of the pizza delivery market and approximately 45 per cent share of the overall pizza market. Domino's business has been growing at the rate of over 55 per cent this year while the industry has been growing at about 30 per cent. We have also increased our market share this year by about 5 per cent. Last year at the same time our share of the branded pizza market was 40 per cent.

Q. What is the ad-spend of Domino’s?

We launch three new products every year after thorough research and development. This year, too, we will be launching four to five new products/promotions. Marketing spend this year would be in the range of Rs 20 crore. Most of our advertising spend is on the TV medium.

Q. What is the brand positioning of Domino’s? What is the target audience?

Domino’s brand is built around the emotional benefit of “satisfies your craving for tasty food at the time of need”. The main focus is on owning the taste platform as a means to satisfy the craving for good food through innovative and indulgent pizzas, and the 30 minutes delivery promise is a credible reason for the “at the time of need positioning”.

Our core target customer is the urban SEC-A family in the age group of 18-35 years, where both husband and wife are working, who are short of time but want to indulge in tasty food at home. However, increasingly we see our user base expanding far beyond this core TG.

Q. Are there any plans to expand via the franchise route?

Currently all our stores in India are company-owned, however, we are open to franchisees that meet our criteria. We are currently looking at franchising express stores in food courts in the Delhi NCR area.

Q. Are you taking any specific initiatives to target children?

We don’t target children specifically. Our core TG is SEC-A family in the 18-35 age group.

Q. And what about your global presence?

Domino’s Pizza is one of the leading players in the QSR industry and has approx 8,500 stores in more than 55 countries around the world. The markets in which we operate cover more than 40 per cent of the world’s population.

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