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Harneet Singh Rajpal

VP – Marketing | 03 Apr 2012

The Indian pizza market is worth approximately Rs 1,300-1,400 crore out of the Rs 8,000 crore organised food sector of India, as per Euromonitor data last year. Domino’s enjoys 54 per cent share of the pizza market, and 70 per cent share if you look at the organised home delivery space.

Harneet Singh Rajpal, VP – Marketing, 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 India operations of US-based Kohler Co. His key focus has always been on understanding the consumer and building profitable brands. 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.

Here are excerpts from Shree Lahiri’s conversation with him:

Q. What is the size of the Indian pizza market? What is the market-share that Domino’s enjoys?

The Indian pizza market is worth approximately Rs 1,300-1,400 crore out of the Rs 8,000 crore organised food sector of India, as per Euromonitor data last year. Domino’s enjoys 54 per cent share of the pizza market, and 70 per cent share if you look at the organised home delivery space.

Q. Pizzas changed the eating habits of the common Indian, and we’ve 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 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. The brand positioning moved from a ‘Hungry kya’ positioning to ’30 mins or Free’. How did the transition to ‘Khushiyon ki Home Delivery’ happen?

Initially our positioning was ‘Hungry kya’. 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 a buffer time, 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 realised it was time to connect with people on an emotional level. So, we went to the consumer and found out that the ‘delivery’ factor helps to lighten the mood, bring joy and happiness. In ‘30 minutes or Free’, Domino’s pizza not only brought joy, but also a lot of sharing and bonding while eating it. Hence, the new positioning was brought in. When the consumer evolves, the brand also evolves.

Q. Who are your target consumers?

Out target consumer base is broad. It could be a kid to or a 40-year old. But we focus on the 15-35 years age group, living in urban, semi-urban areas who connect on a psychological level. Because 54 per cent 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 have entered working life. Domino’s is a natural fit here.

Q. What are the marketing spends for Domino’s?

Around four to five per cent of our revenue goes into our marketing spends. We are not averse to looking at a higher percentage.

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

We launched our online ordering system in April 2011, and it is a huge success. On Facebook, we have almost one million fans. We try to understand and shape the personality of Facebook 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 get people to try this platform and enjoy its convenience.

Q. What are your plans to expand to new areas?

We opened our first store in Sri Lanka in May 2011 and are exploring the market in Bangladesh. As far as Tier II and Tier III towns go, we are now present in 100 cities (10 metros and mini metros and 90 from Tier II and Tier III) across the country. We believe there are many more cities that we can move into.

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 this). 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.

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

People find our delivery standards much better. With presence in 100 countries, we have the widest footprint. At least, 70 per cent of our customers are repeat purchasers every month. This loyalty makes us market leaders.

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